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Oklahoma City Thunder: A game-by-game look at how Russell Westbrook's absence could affect OKC

A look at each game Russell Westbrook could miss if he is sidelined the first six weeks of the regular season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery Tuesday and how his absence could affect the Thunder.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: October 1, 2013
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photo - Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (0) fights Houston's James Harden (13) for a rebound during Game 1 in the first round of the NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Monday, April 22, 2013. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (0) fights Houston's James Harden (13) for a rebound during Game 1 in the first round of the NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Monday, April 22, 2013. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Nov. 21; L.A. Clippers; 56-26; 3-0

What to watch for: A second matchup with the Clips in eight days offers optimism that whatever might go wrong in the first meeting will be figured out this time around.

Nov. 24; Utah; 43-39; 3-1

What to watch for: With a much better team, the Jazz were just 13-28 on the road last year.

Nov. 27; San Antonio; 58-24; 2-2

What to watch for: Tony Parker is a problem. When the Spurs are successful against OKC, he generally has his way. Without Westbrook around to turn it into a shootout, this will be a great early-season test of the Thunder's defense.

Nov. 29; Golden State; 47-35; 3-1

What to watch for: It'll be the end of a difficult five-game homestand. The Thunder will want to close it out strong. Under the circumstances, a 3-2 mark would be acceptable.

Dec. 1; Minnesota; 31-51; 2-2

What to watch for: Thunder fans as well as anyone know how much Kevin Martin struggled on the road last season. If that trend continues this season, it will eliminate one of Minnesota's new weapons.

Dec. 3; at Sacramento; 28-54; 3-0

What to watch for: The Kings have one borderline star in DeMarcus Cousins and a cast of complementary players. They also tied Phoenix with a conference-worst 8-33 road mark last year.

Dec. 4; at Portland; 33-49; 4-0

What to watch for: Reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard is on the cusp of stardom. But the young Blazers are more than a one-man show. They've bolstered their bench with experience and shooting. This will be a tough second night of a back-to-back.

Dec. 6; at New Orleans; 27-55; 4-0

What to watch for: The Hornets added Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans, two tremendous talents. But nobody knows how the personalities will fit. Look for the Thunder's superior talent and continuity to win out.

Dec. 8; Indiana; 49-32; 2-0

What to watch for: An Eastern Conference Finalist a year ago, the Pacers are back and better than before. Their defense is their calling card. But they've added offensive threats in Luis Scola, C.J. Watson and a healthy Danny Granger.

Dec. 10; at Atlanta; 44-38; 1-1

What to watch for: After losing Josh Smith to Detroit, there's no telling whether the Hawks will be the sixth seed or the 12th seed.

Dec. 11; at Memphis; 56-26; 1-2

What to watch for: Nobody needs a reminder of how bad the Grizzlies made the Thunder look without Westbrook. By now, you can only hope things will be different.

Dec. 13; L.A. Lakers; 45-37; 3-1

What to watch for: Talk about a big game. We could see the return of Westbrook and Kobe Bryant (Achilles). If not, this one just won't be what it used to be.

Dec. 15; Orlando; 20-62; 2-0

What to watch for: Victor Oladipo is a preseason favorite for Rookie of the Year. Outside of him and a few other promising youngsters, the Magic are in over their heads.

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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