Milwaukee At Oklahoma City
When: 8:00 PM
ET, Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
The Oklahoma City Thunder have wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs and may rest key personnel when they host the playoff-bound Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday. The Thunder clinched the franchise’s first top seed since 1996 - when they were the Seattle SuperSonics – by beating the Sacramento Kings on Monday. The Bucks are firmly entrenched as the No. 8 seed in the East but have lost five in a row.
Another race that appears over is the NBA scoring title. New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony averaged 36.9 points the first eight games of this month to boost his average to 28.7 and surge ahead of Thunder forward Kevin Durant (28.1). Anthony did not play in Monday’s loss to the Charlotte Bobcats and is expected to sit out Wednesday’s regular-season finale against the Atlanta Hawks. If so, Durant would need 70 points to overtake Anthony for his fourth consecutive scoring title. He’s averaging 24 points against the Bucks in nine previous career meetings, fourth-fewest among all opponents.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Wisconsin (Milwaukee), Fox Sports Oklahoma (Oklahoma City)
ABOUT THE BUCKS (37-44): Brandon Jennings of the Bucks grew up not far from Russell Westbrook of the Thunder and attracted more attention as a high school freshman in Southern California than Westbrook ever received during his prep career. Jennings has taken a backseat as an NBA point guard and will end this season as a restricted free agent. His perpetual hot-and-cold play has filtered into this final month of the regular season. After scoring 30 points in 36 minutes against the Miami Heat last week, he shot 1-for-11 and scored four points in a one-point loss Monday against the Denver Nuggets.
ABOUT THE THUNDER (60-21): With their playoff seeding locked up, it would be surprising if Thunder starting center Kendrick Perkins made an appearance against the Bucks. He sat out Monday’s win against the Kings with a hamstring injury, opening the door for back-up second-year center Daniel Orton to produce season highs of 10 points, seven rebounds and three steals in 22 minutes. Orton, an Oklahoma City native who played for Kentucky and went back and forth between the Thunder and NBA D-League this season, can show he’s worthy of a permanent roster spot with another strong showing in the regular-season finale.
1. The Thunder won’t know their opening-round playoff opponent until after Wednesday's schedule is completed. The Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz are still competing for the No. 8 seed in the West.
2. Durant is in position to become the sixth player in league history to shoot better than 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the free throw line in the same season. Reggie Miller, Mark Price, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki and Larry Bird are the others. Durant is at 51 percent, 41.6 and 90.5 heading into the final game.
3. Bucks C Larry Sanders is expected to miss his fourth straight game with a sore lower back. He traveled to Chicago on Tuesday to get a second opinion on the condition, which has affected him since early February. Sanders is second in the league in blocked shots (2.8) behind Serge Ibaka of the Thunder (3.1).
PREDICTION: Bucks 98, Thunder 94
Stats and Records
Oklahoma City Off vs
105.9 Points For
100.5 Points Against