Time: 9:30 PM CST
Stream: FSOK & NBA TV
Radio: WWLS (98.1 FM OKC / 97.1 FM Tulsa)
There was plenty to like in the Thunder’s season-opening loss to the Warriors on Tuesday night. The team rallied and showed that, at full strength, they should be a force to be reckoned with in the Western Conference. However, moral victories aside, the Thunder came out of the opener with an 0-1 record.
Tonight, the Thunder are in Los Angeles, hometown to Russell Westbrook (who may/may not be playing tonight) and Paul George to face off with the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers are 1.5 point favorites according to Odds Shark, so let’s see if the Thunder can storm Staples Center and grab their first win of the 2018-19 season as underdogs.
- Russell Westbrook: Out — Knee
- Andre Roberson: Out — Knee
Clippers: Patrick Beverley, Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, Danilo Gallinari, Marcin Gortat
What to Watch For
Improvements in Efficiency: The Thunder were anything but sharp in Game 1 against the Warriors on Tuesday night. They shot 33-of-91 from the field, 10-of-37 from three-point range and 24-of-37 from the free throw line. Billy Donovan’s group will need to pare back on the questionable shots and start taking the easy ones. Steven Adams had a clean 6-of-12 shooting performance against GSW, but Paul George and Dennis Schroder combined to shoot 16-of-42 — just 38 percent. Now, we can only hope to chalk this up as an off night and move forward. Here’s hoping the Thunder can work out their shooting issues and have a strong offensive showing tonight.
Westbrook’s Progress: Russell Westbrook is still rehabbing from his arthroscopic right knee surgery from September 12th, but he appears to be very close to being back in game shape, as he was seen performing a high energy workout earlier this morning in preparation for tonight’s game. He was declared “out” earlier this week, but Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers was quoted yesterday by Jovan Buha of The Athletic, saying: “We’re just preparing for West(brook). We have inside sources. I’m breaking it now West(brook) is going to play.” This bodes well for the Thunder, as there was fear that Westbrook could miss up to a few weeks of the regular season. With this update, it seems as though the Brodie could be good to go as early as tonight — with his return from injury and first contest of the 2018-19 season in his hometown.
PG will have his hands full: With the LA Clippers moving on from the Lob City era, this iteration of the team may be unfamiliar to the casual fan. However, one thing this lineup can do is score; particularly from the forward spots. The Clippers new forward duo – Danilo Gallinari and Tobias Harris – can put up points in bunches with their combination of size, savvy and versatility. Against the Nuggets on Wednesday, Harris had 19 points and 10 rebounds on 6-of-13 shooting and Gallinari had 16 points and 8 rebounds on 5-of-13 from the field and 4-of-7 from three. Not only will George need to lock his man up from scoring, but he will also need to keep him off the boards as well. It will be interesting to see who Billy Donovan decides to assign George with on defense, as both Gallinari and Harris are “tweeners” — forwards who can play either the SF or PF and score from anywhere on the floor.
SG Competition: This has been one of the most-discussed topics around the Thunder in the preseason; who will Billy Donovan lean on to fill the Andre Roberson void? Well, on Tuesday, Donovan rolled with second-year guard Terrance Ferguson. Ferguson didn’t do much of anything in his 27 minutes, accumulating 4 rebounds and 1 assist on o-of-2 shooting from the field. Alex Abrines had a solid outing, scoring 8 points on 3-of-8 shooting to go along with 2 rebounds in 23 minutes of action. Abrines has also looked like a much-improved defender from last year, and may be the most consistent option at the 2-guard spot for the time being. Hamidou Diallo, the 45th overall pick who has quickly become a fan favorite, totaled 4 points (2-of-4 from the field), 1 rebound, 1 assist and 1 steal in 9 minutes. This was a small sample size for the 6-foot-5 rookie, but he had the highest plus-minus of anyone on the Thunder in Tuesday’s game: a +5 rating. The SG competition will be something to monitor as the season progresses for OKC.