3 min read

Friday Bolts: 11.30.18

Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) previews tonight’s Thunder/Hawks matchup: “Statistically, the Thunder is doing something no other team in the league is currently: holding its opponents to less than a point per possession. Through the first 20 games of the year, Head Coach Billy Donovan has his bunch humming on the defensive side of the ball, holding teams to just 99.8 points per 100 possessions. Those defensive numbers were bolstered by holding Cleveland to just 83 points on Wednesday night, and the Thunder has a chance to keep it up with another strong showing at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Friday against the Atlanta Hawks. The goal on every possession for the Thunder is to contest at the three-point line and limit the number of attempts from deep.”

Brad Rowland (Peachtree Hoops) previews tonight’s contest from the other side: “After a brief respite, the Atlanta Hawks will enter Friday night’s game attempting to right the ship (again) after a loss. The team seemingly ran out of gas (at least according to its head coach) in a loss to the Charlotte Hornets but, in this particular spot, the Hawks will be rested and ready to face off with Russell Westbrook, Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder. In addition to the uphill battle for the Hawks in facing a playoff-caliber team on the road, this also marks the first regular season match-up between Atlanta and former point guard Dennis Schröder. The 25-year-old was, of course, dealt to Oklahoma City over the summer in a deal that netted the Hawks a first round pick and future salary cap flexibility, but Schröder has (predictably) upped his defensive effort level in his new home and is playing relatively well as a result.”

Maddie Lee (Oklahoman) on Dennis Schroder’s improved shooting: “In Atlanta I just handled it, probably every possession,” Schroder said of his time with the Hawks, who come to Oklahoma City on Friday. “And now it’s great to have two, three guys who can create with me at the same time on the court.” Even after an 0-of-3 night from beyond the arc in the Thunder’s win over the Cavaliers on Wednesday, Schroder has been one of the Thunder’s best 3-point shooters in the five games since Westbrook’s return. Among Thunder players who took five or more 3-pointers in that span, Schroder had the second-best 3-point percentage (11-of-30, 36.7 percent), behind Jerami Grant (6-of-16, 37.5 percent). Schroder is shooting even better on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers this season (41.8 percent).”

Adam Zagoria (Forbes) on how Russ and KD helped shape Hawks’ guard (and OU alum) Trae Young: “During Trae Young’s senior year at Norman North High School in Oklahoma, he went to an Oklahoma City Thunder game and chatted with Russell Westbrook. The young point guard explained to the NBA point guard that he had gone for 30 points, 10 assists and “only” six rebounds during a recent game. “Just do it all, man,” Westbrook told Young, according to Rayford Young, Trae’s father. “Don’t get pigeonholed into doing one thing just because you’re a point guard. Go do it all. Go get those rebounds. Be an all-around player.”

One of the Black Eyed Peas will perform at halftime tonight in OKC: “In honor of Native American heritage month, the Oklahoma City Thunder will have a special halftime performance, presented in partnership with Nike, with Grammy award winning member of the Black Eyed Peas and Nike N7 ambassador, Taboo Nawasha, at the Thunder vs. Atlanta Hawks game on Nov. 30 with tipoff at 7 p.m. Taboo is a descendant of the Shoshone and Hopi Tribes. ”

Erik Horne (Oklahoman) with an Andre Roberson injury update: “Following a procedure to alleviate irritation from a suture in his left knee on Oct. 4, the Thunder said Roberson would be re-evaluated in two months, which would put his re-evaluation date around the first week of December. A re-evaluation is not the same as a return date, however, and there is no timetable for Roberson’s return. But Thursday offered some of the most promising displays from Roberson in the Thunder’s post-practice sessions the media is allowed to witness. In the past month, the Thunder staff has ramped up Roberson’s conditioning drills in the non-contact, post-practice sessions, often with Donovan and general manager Sam Presti watching intently. On Thursday, Roberson showed brief reminders of what makes him special on defense.”

Visuals of Andre’s Thursday workout:

Grant Hughes (B/R) has the Thunder fourth in his latest power rankings: “I’m not sure many observers view the Oklahoma City Thunder as a member of the NBA’s true upper echelon, but a quick scan of the last calendar month suggests that conventional wisdom might need some realignment. The Thunder are 12-3 since Oct. 30 and have firmly established their defense as the best around. Russell Westbrook, often destructive and yet almost admirable in his career-long refusal to compromise his style of play, is displaying real changes this season. He’s posting a career high in shot frequency inside three feet, essentially cutting out long twos and those tricky little floaters from 3 to 10 feet in the bargain.”