Preview 27 of 82: Thunder @ Nuggets
Time: 9:00 PM CST
TV: ESPN & FSOK
The Oklahoma City Thunder (17-9) are on the road tonight in Denver, facing the Nuggets (18-9) in a Northwest Division showdown. The Nuggets are currently a half-game up on OKC for first place in the division and tied with the Golden State Warriors for the top spot in the Western Conference. This is the second meeting between the two teams this season, with Denver taking a 105-98 victory on November 24.
Tip-off is at 9:00 P.M. CST and will be televised on ESPN and Fox Sports Oklahoma. The Thunder are 1.5-point road favorites according to Odds Shark.
- Andre Roberson: Out — Knee
- Jamal Murray: Probable — Shin
- Isaiah Thomas: Out — Hip
- Michael Porter Jr.: Out — Back
- Gary Harris: Out — Hip
- Will Barton: Out — Hip
- Paul Millsap: Out — Toe
- Jarred Vanderbilt: Out — Foot
Nuggets: Jamal Murray, Torrey Craig, Juancho Hernangomez, Nikola Jokic, Mason Plumlee
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What to Watch For
The Last Time. The Nuggets scored a 105-98 victory on November 24 in Oklahoma City, riding 22 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists from Jamal Murray to the win. Nikola Jokic was held largely in check, contributing 16 points and 6 rebounds — but Paul George and Russell Westbrook combined to shoot 14-of-44 and the Thunder shot 35.9 percent for the game. In order to avoid the same outcome, the offense simply has to be better.
Pace. The Nuggets prefer a slowed-down version of the game, illustrated by their 98.5 pace — 27th-highest in the league. They held the Thunder to just seven fast break points on November 24, so OKC will need to push it and force the Nuggets out of their game plan tonight.
Good Russ. Westbrook shot 6-of-23 against the Nuggets on November 24 — including a 1-of-12 clip from downtown. His recent struggles have been well-documented, as he comes in averaging 19 PPG on 38.9 percent shooting (23.5 percent 3P) over the last five games. George has taken over as the Thunder’s primary option on offense, but OKC needs a strong performance from their point guard against the division leaders.
The Other Guys. The Nuggets are quite banged up coming into this one, as they’ll be without (among others) two starters — Gary Harris and Paul Millsap. Look for Trey Lyles and Monte Morris to log heavy minutes off the bench, with Mason Plumlee and Torrey Craig entering the starting five.
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