Preview 18 of 82: Pistons @ Thunder
Time: 7:00 PM CT
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma
Radio: WWLS (98.1 FM OKC / 97.1 FM Tulsa)
Oh the difference a win makes.
Coming off a resounding victory on Wednesday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder has suddenly changed the narrative surrounding the team’s 8-9 start. While the record is nowhere close to where it needs to be, the Thunder showed a different level of ability in disposing of Kevin Durant and the Warriors. How OKC responds tonight — especially avoiding an emotional comedown — will be the key to the game.
The Pistons have been a surprising team in the Eastern Conference, racing out to an 11-6 record and leading the Central Division. The squad features a balanced attack led by Tobias Harris, Reggie Jackson, Avery Bradley and Andre Drummond, and won’t be a pushover for the Thunder. As one of the best three-point shooting teams in the league, Detroit will give the OKC defense another test in perimeter defense.
Let’s get into the notes.
- Jon Leuer: Doubtful — Ankle
Pistons Starters: Reggie Jackson, Avery Bradley, Stanley Johnson, Tobias Harris, Andre Drummond
New threads. The Thunder will be breaking out the new “Statement” uniform option tonight. Check ’em out:
Keep it rolling. The Thunder obviously snapped out of the recent funk in a big way on Wednesday night versus the Warriors. Russell Westbrook and Co. looked fantastic, but the key was keeping a consistent effort alive for 48 minutes. The Pistons aren’t Golden State — no one is — but they’re good enough to beat OKC if the effort isn’t there for four quarters.
Russ vs Reggie. The Thunder plays better collectively when Russell Westbrook is pushing the pace, so it’s a plus that he’s going against his former backup, Reggie Jackson. Jackson celebrating a win frustrated Westbrook the last time the two faced off, with Russ calling the actions “some real bullsh*t.” If he can channel a quarter of the aggression he displayed against Golden State, expect him to get things going early.
Rotation Changes. Billy Donovan made a few rotation changes for Wednesday against the Warriors, most notably his decision to sub Steven Adams out first and then run him with the second unit. The move solidified a weak second unit defense, and could be a useful strategy moving forward. Will be interesting to see if Donovan sticks with it.
Guarding the three. Again — the Pistons aren’t Golden State — but they do pose a formidable threat from beyond the arc. Detroit has the fourth best three-point percentage at 38.5 percent, so a similar approach could be taken by the Thunder defense. Look for Paul George to again be active in the passing lanes and aiming to boost his league-leading 2.6 steals per game while sparking Thunder fast breaks.
Steven Adams discusses the new uniform OKC will debut tonight. Via Fred Katz.
Russell Westbrook on momentum after beating the Warriors. Via Royce Young.