Oklahoma City (0-0) at Philadelphia (0-0)
When: Wednesday, October 26th 2016
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Time: 8:05 ET | TV: ESPN
Life without Kevin Durant starts Tuesday night for the Oklahoma City Thunder as they open the 2016-17 season against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. Durant was the biggest free agent signing in the offseason, electing to go to Golden State instead of sticking around with Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City. The Thunder blew a three games to one lead in last year’s Western Conference Finals, but will be hard-pressed to get back to that level without Durant. Westbrook averaged 23.5 points, 10.4 assists and 7.8 rebounds last season and those numbers will probably go up now that he is basically by himself. Victor Oladipo (16.0 points) is considered the second-best offensive player on the roster after leaving Orlando to play with Westbrook. Post players Enes Kanter (12.7 points, 8.1 rebounds) and Steven Adams (8.0 points, 6.7 rebounds) will have opportunities to increase their production. The Thunder won last season’s two meetings by an average of 15.5 points and have won 14 straight against the 76ers.
The 76ers rebuilding program has been slowed by injuries and the results on the court are showing. Philadelphia went 10-72 last season and have won just 47 games over the last three seasons. No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons fractured his right foot and won’t be ready to make his debut for approximately three more months. Nerlens Noel (11.1 points, 8.1 rebounds) underwent surgery on his left knee and will miss 3-5 weeks while Jahlil Okafor (17.5 points, 7.0 rebounds) is rounding into form after March surgery on his right knee. One bright spot is that center Joel Embiid is healthy and played well in the preseason after missing his first two seasons due to a foot injury. Guard Jerryd Bayless (wrist) is also ailing and will miss the first month of the season.
It’s hard to predict how fall the Thunder will fall without Durant, but they are still a playoff team with Westbrook carrying the load. It will take a while, but the Sixers should have a bright future with their young talent as long as they can stay healthy. I like Philly to be competitive tonight and hang with Oklahoma City long enough to get the cover.
Pick: 76ers +8.5