Preview 73 of 82: Thunder @ Raptors
Time: 6:30 PM CST
TV: FSOK & NBA TV
The Oklahoma City Thunder (42-30) are looking to avoid their fifth straight loss tonight in Toronto, taking on the Raptors (51-21) at Scotiabank Arena. This is the second time the teams will face this off this week, with the Raptors taking a 123-114 overtime victory on Wednesday in OKC. Though nothing comes easy against the second-best team in the Eastern Conference, the Thunder have won four of their last five when traveling north of the border and the Raptors will again be without Kyle Lowry (ankle).
Tip-off is at 6:30 PM CST and will be televised on NBA TV and Fox Sports Oklahoma. The Thunder are 2.5-point road underdogs according to Odds Shark.
- Andre Roberson: Out — Knee
- Kyle Lowry: Out — Ankle
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What to Watch For
Run It Back. Though the Thunder ultimately fought back and forced overtime before falling on Wednesday night, Toronto dominated early by hitting 8-of-15 from long range in the first half to open up an 8-point halftime lead. The Thunder’s deficit grew to 19 in the third quarter before their furious rally to force overtime. With the Raptors sporting a 29-7 home record this season, Billy Donovan will have to find a way to get 48 full minutes of out his team if the losing streak is to end north of the border.
Slowing Down Toronto. The Raptors posted 52/39/90 shooting splits on Wednesday, led by Pascal Siakam’s 33 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, and two steals. Fred VanVleet pitched in 23 points, and Kawhi Leonard added 22 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, and two steals of his own. The Thunder made it interesting by holding Toronto to just 18 points on 31.8 percent shooting in the fourth quarter — including a 1-of-11 clip from long range and six turnovers. The blueprint is there for a successful defensive outing, but that won’t be easy on the road against a very good opponent.
The Brodie. Russell Westbrook was a man on fire Wednesday night, torching the Raptors for 42 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists on 16-of-29 shooting and a 5-of-10 clip from downtown. He turned it over nine times, which is never good, so he’ll need to clean that up against the NBA’s sixth best defense (106.9 DRTG).
Paging Paul George. PG13 was quiet on Wednesday night, finding himself stranded on a Kawhisland for most of the evening. He finished with 19 points (6/14 FG, 3/10 3P, 4/7 FT), six assists, and five rebounds. As we’ve seen for most of the season, the Thunder have a very hard time winning when George is unproductive. With Kawhi there to shadow him once again, it won’t be easy bouncing back tonight.
The Free Ones. Getting to the line wasn’t an issue for the Thunder on Wednesday, but what happened once they got there was disastrous. Despite shooting eight more free throws than Toronto (who made 90.5% of their FTs), OKC shot 15-of-29 for a horrifically bad 51.7 percent success rate. In a game that was tied after regulation and ultimately decided by nine points, those 14 missed free throws were killer. The Thunder aren’t a good free throw shooting team, but they simply have to do better than 51 percent. You don’t beat the Raptors in Toronto by leaving that many points on the board.