Preview 30 of 82: Thunder @ Kings
Time: 9:00 PM CST
TV: FSOK & NBA TV
The Oklahoma City Thunder (19-10) are on the road in Sacramento, facing the Kings (16-14) in the third match-up between the teams this season. Despite trailing the Thunder by 3.5 games in the Western Conference, the Kings carry a 2-0 record against OKC thus far in the 2018-19 campaign — averaging a blistering 124 points per game in the two victories. The Thunder and their top-ranked defense will be looking for a measure of redemption tonight.
Tip-off is at 9:00 P.M. CST and will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma and NBA TV. The Thunder are five-point road favorites according to Odds Shark.
Note: Dennis Schroder and Raymond Felton have been suspended for tonight’s game due to their part in Monday night’s melee with the Bulls. More on that below.
- Dennis Schroder: Out — Suspended
- Raymond Felton: Out — Suspended
- Andre Roberson: Out — Knee
- Marvin Bagley: Out — Knee
- Bogdan Bogdanovic: Out — Foot
- Iman Shumpert: Out — Hip
Kings: De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Justin Jackson, Nemanja Bjelica, Willie Cauley-Stein
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What to Watch For
Suspensions. Per Shams Charania of The Athletic, Dennis Schroder and Raymond Felton are both suspended for tonight’s game as a result of Monday’s melee with the Bulls. While neither were directly involved, apparently they left the Thunder bench — which is obviously worse than shoving, pointing, head locks, etc. Westbrook will be without his top two backups tonight — which might pave the way for a little Point Abrines action. Always interesting.
For his part in the ordeal, Jerami Grant has been fined $20,000 but will be available tonight in Sacramento.
At least there’s this?: $293,000 in luxury tax savings.
The First Two. The Kings are 2-0 against the Thunder so far this season, taking a 131-120 victory on October 21 and a 117-113 win on November 19. They’ve had no trouble with the OKC defense, averaging 124 PPG on 49.5 percent shooting and 43.5 percent from long range — though, they’ll be without some offensive firepower tonight. They’ll certainly miss Bogdan Bogdanovic and Marvin Bagley — but the absence of Thunder-killer Iman Shumpert could hurt. He somehow goes full MJ when facing OKC.
Kings’ Backcourt. With Sacramento missing a few key pieces of their offensive attack, look for a healthy dose of De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield in this one. The Kings’ starting backcourt is capable of scoring in bunches, as Hield leads the team in scoring at 19.3 PPG. Fox is having a very nice sophomore season, turning in 17.9 points and 7.3 assists per contest.
Keep PG Rolling. Paul George enters tonight averaging 28.5 PPG in December — shooting 44 percent from deep in the process. Against a Kings team that scores 115.4 PPG (4th in NBA), his services will be needed on both ends tonight. Hasn’t been much of an issue for him lately.
Westbrook Breakout Game. Though he’s averaging a triple-double and fills the stat sheet nightly, Westbrook hasn’t been himself on the offensive end so far this season. He’s cracked the 20-point plateau in just three of OKC’s eight December games — scoring 13 points in each of the last three contests. Though the Kings are no pushovers, the schedule picks up from here, as the Thunder face the Jazz, Timberwolves, and Rockets over the next three. It would calm a lot of nerves if there were more signs of offensive life out of the former MVP tonight in Sacramento.
Gallo’s game day report: