Time: 9:30 PM CT
TV: TNT / Fox Sports Oklahoma
Radio: WWLS (98.1 FM OKC / 97.1 FM Tulsa)
The Oklahoma City Thunder (30-21) had its eight-game winning streak snapped on Tuesday against the Wizards, but enters tonight’s contest in Denver just a half game back of the Minnesota Timberwolves for fourth place in the Western Conference. The Thunder is 1-1 versus the Nuggets (26-25) this season, with each team winning on its home floor.
We’ll be staying up late tonight due to the 9:30 PM CT tip-off on TNT. The Thunder is currently a one-point favorite according to OddsShark.
- Andre Roberson: Out — Knee
- Gary Harris: Probable — Ankle
- Paul Millsap: Out — Wrist
- Mason Plumlee: Out — Calf
- Tyler Lydon: Out — Knee
Nuggets: Jamaal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton, Darrell Arthur, Nikola Jokic
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Thunder O & D
Nuggets O & D
11/9: DEN 102, OKC 94 [BOX SCORE]
12/18: OKC 95, DEN 94 [BOX SCORE]
Adams vs Jokic. Big man Nikola Jokic is Denver’s best player (especially with Millsap out) and is having a decent season for the Nuggets. He’s carrying a stat line of 16.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 5.3 assists on 47 percent shooting — averaging 14, 10 and 2.5 in his two meetings with the Thunder. Steven Adams had a fantastic January, averaging 14.7 points and 9.6 rebounds on 65 percent shooting. These two will likely have a go of it tonight — look for Jokic to try to draw Adams out of the paint and free up space for his teammates. Denver has scored 45.4 percent of its points in the paint this season (third-most), a game plan that will be much easier without Adams camped beneath the basket all night.
Offensive Glass. The teams enter as number one and two in the NBA in offensive rebounding. The Thunder leads the league with 12.8 per game, followed by the Nuggets with 11.3. OKC has turned those into 15 second-chance points per game, most in the league. Denver scores 14.2 second-chance points per game, third-best in the association. Needless to say, the team that best controls the offensive glass will have a leg up.
Taking Care of the Basketball. The Thunder turned the ball over 21 times on Tuesday versus the Wizards — enough to cost you the game on most nights. However, the Nuggets average 14.9 turnovers per game and allow 19.1 PPG off those turnovers, second-most in the league. The Thunder needs to take better care of the basketball and use the defense to exploit this hole in Denver’s armor. OKC is tied for best in the league when it comes to scoring off opponent turnovers (18.6 PPG), so this is certainly doable.
The OK3. Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony have combined to shoot 43/103 (41.7 percent) against the Nuggets this season, a stat that is buoyed by Westbrook’s 16/28 clip on December 18. George and Anthony combined for 12 points on 5/19 shooting in that game — they’ll need to be much better tonight. Westbrook is looking to bounce back from a terrible night on Tuesday in DC.
Replacing Roberson. Terrance Ferguson figures to make his third-consecutive start in place of Andre Roberson, a role he has struggled in over the first two games. Billy Donovan has predominantly used Ferguson, Josh Huestis and Jerami Grant to try to fill the void, but I expect more Alex Abrines in this one. He was a +9 in 13 minutes on Tuesday against the Wizards — his first game with double-digit minutes in two weeks. He scored 11 points on 3/3 shooting against the Nuggets on December 18 — the only other player besides Westbrook to reach double-figures.