Dec 18, 2009

GAME PREVIEW 12/18/09 - VIPERS (6-1) vs Tulsa 66ers (4-5)

Tulsa Convention Center

Game #8 - Road Game # 5 - RGV record vs. Tulsa in 2009-10: (2-0)

Greetings from Tulsa, OK. The Vipers will try for the their 7th straight if they can get another road win in Tulsa. The last time RGV was in Tulsa they struggled in the first half, mostly due to an early and topsy-turvy travel day on the second half of a back to back. The Vipers rallied in the second two periods to knock off Tulsa 94-89. 

First lets break down the 66ers. They have made a few key changes to personnel in the last few days. Forward Keith Clark was waived due to injury earlier in the week, but just today he was re-acquired only to be shipped off to the L.A. D-Fenders for forward Deron Washington. Washington was the third overall selection in the D-League draft by LA and was averaging 9.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists for the D-Fenders before the deal.Devon Hardin was waived due to injury to make room for Washington on the roster.

Guard Zabian Dowdell was also added. Dowdell was a legit scorer and play maker at Virgina Tech and overseas in Italy. He gives Tulsa much better depth at the guard position.

Tulsa also added center Steven Hill back to their roster. He might be the reason for a new player rights rule in the D-League as well. Last season Hill was an assignment player for Oklahoma City in the 2008-09 season. He was waived by the Thunder and could not go back to the 66ers when he signed a D-League contract. He was claimed off of the waiver pool by the Utah Flash and the 66ers had to trade their best player at the time (Ronald Dupree) to Utah to get Hill back. Not only did this deplete the 66ers (who were awful last year) they didn't get to use Hill much as he ended up missing the rest of the season after January 27th. Now the league allows D-League affiliates to retain rights of players who have played or have been on the active roster of an NBA team for a certain period of time. 

One quick note, OKC assignee Byron Mullens is not expected to play tonight. He is a strong offensive player and rebounder for Tulsa do the Vipers depth in this department should shine through. 

Tulsa should be rested for this one. The Vipers will need to play string out of the gate if they are to win their seventh straight.

For the Vipers. How else can I put it, they are the hottest team in the Western Conference. The Vipers are winning at home and on the road and lately have been winning convincingly and not letting games come down to the final possession. 

Vipers Head Coach Chris Finch said at lunch today that he still doesn't know yet how good his team is. The reason? The Vipers have only played three teams in their first seven games. They will only play three different teams in their first nine. Other than their home game Monday versus Reno, the Vipers will play only Tulsa, Austin, and Albuquerque over their first 12 games. The Vipers won't play a team outside their conference until January 9th when they travel to Iowa. 

As for the game tonight expect the Vipers to try to keep the pace up and let the offense of Mike Harris, Garrett Temple, and Antonio Anderson continue to carry them. The point guard match-up is huge. Tulsa point man Mustafa Shakur must be contained and forced to make uncomfortable decisions with the ball. Expect the Vipers to give him a few different defensive looks.

The Vipers in my opinion have better personnel, however that does not always mean a victory for you especially on the road. 

Here are the Vipers starters

C - Joey Dorsey
F - Mike Harris
F- Antonio Anderson
G - Garrett Temple
G - Jonathan Wallace.


Tulsa brings out this starting line-up

C - Steven Hill
F - Larry Owens
F - Latavious Williams
G - Moses Ehambe
G - Mustafa Shakur

Mullens is not playing and I do not even see him dressed or on the bench yet. Not many other surprises in the starting line-up

Don't forget to follow all the action on 104.9 JACK FM and on NBA Futurecast. Don King is the broadcaster for Tulsa... no... not this Don King. Kinger is one of the Vet broadcasters in the league. He calls a good game and is a heck of a nice guy. He will have the call on Futurecast tonight

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