Time: 7:00 PM CT
Radio: WWLS (98.1 FM OKC/97.1 FM Tulsa)
Fresh off a critical loss last night in San Antonio, the Oklahoma City Thunder (44-32) returns home tonight to face its Northwest Division rival Denver Nuggets (40-35). As per usual lately, the contest is a must-win scenario for both teams.
The Nuggets find themselves 10th in the Western Conference, trailing the eighth-place Utah Jazz by two games. They’ll be fighting for their playoff lives against a Thunder squad that is currently fifth in the standings but just a game and a half up on that same eighth-place Jazz team. With a loss and a few bad breaks around the league, OKC could find itself as low as seventh by the end of the night.
Tip-off is at 7:00 PM CT and will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma. The Thunder is a 6.5-point favorite tonight according to Odds Shark.
- Andre Roberson: Out – Knee
- Gary Harris: Out — Knee
- Tyler Lydon: Out — Knee
Nuggets: Jamal Murray, Will Barton, Wilson Chandler, Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic
Thunder O & D
Nuggets O & D
Denver leads season series 2-1
Nov 9: DEN 102, OKC 94 [BOX SCORE]
Dec 18: OKC 95, DEN 94 [BOX SCORE]
Feb 1: DEN 127, OKC 124 [BOX SCORE]
No Gary. The Nuggets will be without Gary Harris tonight, as he’s set to miss his seventh consecutive game with a right knee injury. He scored 25 points in Denver’s 127-124 victory over the Thunder on February 1 — including the game-winning three-pointer in Russell Westbrook’s face. Will Barton will get the start at shooting guard and he’s averaged 18 PPG since Harris went down with his injury. Corey Brewer will be tasked with slowing him down.
Jamal & Nikola. Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic torched the Thunder last time the teams matched up, with Murray dropping 33 points on 14-of-23 shooting and Jokic adding 29 points, 13 rebounds, and 14 assists. Westbrook will need to play some defense on Murray in hopes of a better outcome. Steven Adams –who struggled defensively with LaMarcus Aldridge last night — simply must step up and make life difficult for Jokic. As good as Adams is on defense, it’s very tough to love that match-up.
Defending the Three. The Nuggets are the fourth-best three-point shooting team in the league, hitting 37.5 percent of their attempts from distance. They’ve hit nearly 13 long balls per contest in the three games against OKC this season, making the Thunder’s perimeter defense extremely important in this one. Even without Harris, guys like Jokic, Trey Lyles, Murray, Barton, and Wilson Chandler are all capable enough to throw a wrench in the Thunder’s defensive plans.
Return of Millsap. Paul Millsap has missed the last two outings against OKC this season but will be back in the lineup tonight. He’s averaging 12.7 points and 6.1 rebounds in the 15 games since returning from injury, hitting 50 percent of his shots and 37.5 percent of his tries from long distance. With Adams busy defending Jokic, Carmelo Anthony will draw this match-up defensively. There’s nothing to love about that — expect Paul George, Patrick Patterson, and Jerami Grant to aid in this effort.
Bounce Back Brodie. Russell Westbrook struggled last night in San Antonio, going 2-for-8 in the fourth quarter and airballing two critical three-pointers in the final minutes. He’s historically been very good against the Nuggets, so he’ll look to bounce back and help the Thunder grab this must-win game. If he struggles again, Denver could very well steal this one at Chesapeake Energy Arena.