Preview 60 of 82: Thunder @ Kings
Time: 9:00 PM CT
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma
Radio: WWLS (98.1 FM OKC / 97.1 FM Tulsa)
Thunder basketball is finally back after a week off for the All-Star break but the Thunder has a difficult road ahead. Heading into the All-Star break, the Thunder had lost six of the last nine games and still haven’t completely recovered from losing Andre Roberson to injury almost a month ago. Oklahoma City has the ninth-most difficult remaining schedule in the NBA, including two more match-ups each against the Rockets and Warriors — all while things are starting to heat up in the Western Conference standings.
OKC has to show some semblance of consistency in the remaining 23 games in order to hold on to the 5th seed. The Thunder (33-26) is currently tied in the loss column with the sixth through ninth ranked teams (Nuggets, Blazers, Pelicans, and Clippers) and could reasonably end up anywhere between the third seed and the eighth seed by season’s end. That being said, a win tonight against the Kings (18-39) and every other sub-.500 team left on the schedule is absolutely crucial for favorable playoff seeding in April.
Tip-off is at 9:00 PM CT and the game will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma. The Thunder is currently a 7.5-point favorite according to OddsShark.
- Andre Roberson: Out – Knee
- Harry Giles: Out – Knee
Kings: De’Aaron Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Justin Jackson, JaKarr Sampson, Willie Cauley-Stein
|Team||EFG%||FTA Rate||TOV%||OREB%||OPP EFG%||OPP FTA||OPP TOV%||OPP OREB%|
Click to Enlarge
Thunder O & D
Kings O & D
11/7: SAC 94, OKC 86 [BOX SCORE]
1/15: OKC 95, SAC 88 [BOX SCORE]
To Buy or Not to Buy. The deadline for the Thunder to acquire another player via the buyout market is just nine days away. So far, the Thunder are rumored to be interested in Chicago Bulls shooting guard Tony Allen but nothing has materialized yet. While the Thunder presumably waits for the perfect roster addition, most of the top available shooting guards have gone to other teams including Marco Belinelli (Philadelphia) and Joe Johnson (Houston). At this point, it’s unclear what the front office strategy is. Are they waiting for a specific player to be bought out before March 1? Are they secretly working on deals that have avoided media attention? Or have they decided to stick with what they have? I sincerely hope it’s not the last option because the inconsistency of the current shooting guards would be concerning in a seven-game series. This is supposed be an all-or-nothing season targeted at re-signing Paul George and sticking with the current roster seems like settling. If OKC wants to retain George this summer, the front office must try to patch the void left by Roberson’s injury. Here’s hoping Presti comes through at the last possible moment.
Defending the Line. Since January 30 (OKC’s first game without Roberson), the Thunder has played nine games and clearly struggled to defend the three-point line. In those nine games without Roberson, the opposing team made 10 or more threes six times and OKC is 1-5 in those six games. The Kings are second in the NBA in three-point percentage, meaning when they have an open look from three, they can make it. The Thunder has to be diligent about closing out on the wing and not leaving open shots for the Kings. If not, I’d be willing to bet that if Sacramento wins this game it’s because they made 10+ threes.
King’s Rising Stars. The Kings had three players, Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and De’Aaron Fox, appear in the Rising Stars game during All-Star weekend. Hield and Bogdanovic highlighted Team World with 29 points and 26 points, respectively. Bogdanovic earned MVP of the game after hitting seven threes. Fox tallied four points and two assists for Team USA.
Thunderous All-Star Weekend. Paul George floundered in the three-point contest during All-Star Weekend but came back strong in the All-Star Game hitting four threes and scoring 16 points for Team Lebron. Russell Westbrook also shined for Team Lebron with 11 points, 8 assists, and 8 rebounds. Check out Daily Thunder’s complete recap of the All-Star Game and Sunday night’s episode of Mr. Presti’s Neighborhood featuring myself and the pride of the Daily Thunder comment section, StyleIcon, discussing All-Star weekend and the remaining Thunder season.