Time: 7:00 PM CST
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma
The Oklahoma City Thunder (16-7) are on the road in the Windy City tonight, taking on the Bulls (5-20) at the United Center in Chicago. The Thunder have won four straight and 16 of their last 19 games — including Wednesday’s improbable comeback led by Paul George’s season-high 47 points. The Bulls, on the other hand, have lost seven consecutive and 11 of their last 12.
Tip-off is at 7:00 P.M. CST and will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma. The Thunder are nine-point road favorites according to Odds Shark.
- Andre Roberson: Out — Knee
- Bobby Portis: Doubtful — Knee
- Kris Dunn: Out — Knee
- Denzel Valentine: Out — Ankle
Bulls: Ryan Arcidiacono, Zach LaVine, Justin Holiday, Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter, Jr.
|Team||EFG||FTA%||TO%||OREB%||OP EFG||OP FTA||OP TO||OP OREB|
What to Watch For
Winning the “easy” ones. The Thunder struggled mightily with sub-.500 teams last season, but that hasn’t been an issue so far in the 2018-19 campaign. OKC carries a perfect 12-0 record against teams without a winning record — which should hold up against the Bulls. Despite having some talented young pieces, Chicago finds themselves in the Eastern Conference cellar at 5-20 and are already on their second head coach of the season. The goal for Billy Donovan’s squad is to have the starters resting on the bench by the time the fourth quarter begins.
PG13 heat check. Paul George took control in the fourth quarter on Wednesday in Brooklyn, scoring 25 of his 47 points to erase a 23-point deficit. While he should be fully expected to return to earth in some capacity, the Thunder should feed him early and often in hopes of him retaining some of that momentum. Against a Chicago defense that surrenders 112.3 PPG (23rd in NBA), George and the Thunder have an opportunity to get whatever they’d like.
All 48. After a sluggish first half in Detroit on Monday, OKC outscored the Pistons 37-19 in the third quarter to blow the game wide open. As we all know, it took a 39-19 fourth quarter in Brooklyn to come out ahead on Wednesday. When you remove the two nuclear quarters from those games, the Thunder were actually outscored 157-148 in the remaining six. A full 48-minute effort against the Bulls would help satisfy some lingering doubts about the inconsistent offense.
The Bulls’ attack. The Bulls are 5-20 and tied for last in the East — but there are still some interesting young players worth keeping an eye on. They’re led in scoring by Zach LaVine’s 24.5 PPG. Jabari Parker is up next with 16.4 PPG. Lauri Markkanen returned from injury last week and is averaging 15.5 PPG in his first two outings. Justin Holiday (12.6) and rookie Wendell Carter Jr. (11.4) are also more than capable of getting hot and scoring in bunches. The Thunder defense figures to feast — but it doesn’t come without at least a slight risk. Young/bad teams can shock you if they’re taken lightly.
Streaking. Enjoying a soft schedule over the past couple weeks, the Thunder enter tonight looking for their fifth consecutive victory and seventeenth win in their last 20 tries. A win tonight would give OKC their second winning streak of at least five games and a shot at overtaking Denver as the number one team in the West. The Thunder currently trail the Nuggets by a half-game and both teams are in action this evening. (Denver @ Charlotte, 6PM CST)