Time: 7:00 PM CT
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma
Radio: WWLS (98.1 FM OKC / 97.1 FM Tulsa)
The Oklahoma City Thunder (20-15) will put its six-game winning streak on the line tonight at home against the Milwaukee Bucks (18-15). Things have been remarkably better in the month of December but the team will unfortunately face Giannis Antetokounmpo & Co. without Paul George, who will sit due to left knee soreness. The starting five has yet to be announced, but Alex Abrines figures to slide in at shooting guard, pushing Andre Roberson to small forward.
Tip-off is set for 7:00 PM CT at Chesapeake Energy Arena and the game will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma. The Thunder was a seven point favorite ahead of the Paul George news — that will most certainly change in his absence.
- Paul George: Out — Knee Soreness
- Jabari Parker: Out — Knee
- Mirza Teletovic: Out — Heart
Bucks: Eric Bledsoe, Tony Snell, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, John Henson
|Team||EFG%||FTA Rate||TOV%||OREB%||OPP EFG%||OPP FTA||OPP TOV%||OPP OREB%|
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Thunder O & D:
Bucks O & D:
10/31: OKC 110, MIL 91 [BOX SCORE]
No Paul George. Paul George’s absence will be a blow on both sides of the basketball — particularly on defense in the effort to stop Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Thunder used a starting five of Westbrook, Abrines, Roberson, Anthony and Adams when George was out earlier this season — I’d expect that to be the case again tonight. Terrance Ferguson logged 14 minutes when George sat against the Brooklyn Nets on December 7, but he is set to be in Salt Lake City tonight with the OKC Blue. Billy Donovan will likely tinker, as he is wont to do.
Back-to-Buck. The Bucks are coming in on the second night of a back-to-back, as they played the Timberwolves last night in Milwaukee. They rallied from a 20-point deficit to win the game by a score of 102-96. Eric Bledsoe had 26 points, 6 assists and 5 steals. Antetokounmpo pitched in 22 points and 10 rebounds.
Facing Eric Bledsoe. The Bucks had yet to trade for Eric Bledsoe the first time the Thunder saw them this season. He’s averaged 18.7 points, 4.6 assists and 4 rebounds in 23 games for Milwaukee and will provide an extra layer of defense against Russell Westbrook. Former starter Malcolm Brogdon is still seeing roughly 30 minutes a night and could be a problem for the Thunder’s second unit.
Point of Attack. Russell Westbrook is on a well-documented hot streak and will need that to continue in the absence of Paul George. His ability to come out aggressive and set the tone will go a long way — especially in transition. The Bucks aren’t a great defensive team but they are particularly vulnerable when being attacked on the break. The Thunder can get a win if the offense doesn’t fall into an isolation pit of misery — Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony combined to shoot 29/96 (30 percent) during George’s two-game absence earlier this season.
On The Glass. Milwaukee comes in dead last in rebounds at 38.5 per game. The Thunder has climbed to number 12 in the association at 44 per contest and leads the league with 12.2 offensive rebounds on a nightly basis. OKC should be able to control the glass in this one.
Defending The Greek Freak. Milwaukee is third in the NBA in field goal percentage at 48.3 percent — and Giannis Antetokounmpo leads the charge. The 6’11” point-forward is averaging 29.3 points on 54.5 percent shooting, while also chipping in 10.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists. He scored 28 points on 9/14 shooting against the Thunder on October 31 and it will take the village to keep him from getting a number of easy looks. The absence of Paul George will likely be a big issue here.
Russell Westbrook isn’t short on confidence ahead of facing the Bucks. “When we’re at our best, I don’t think nobody can mess with us.” Via Royce Young.