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Suns vs. Thunder: Pregame Primer

Suns vs. Thunder: Pregame Primer
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Suns (12-22, 4-12 road) vs. Thunder (22-10, 15-4 home)

TV: FSOklahoma
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 1300 AM The Buzz Tulsa)
Time: 7:00 PM CST

Team Comparisons (per NBA.com/Stats)

  • Offensive Rating: Thunder – 109.2 (2nd), Suns – 100.9 (21st)
    Defensive Rating: Thunder – 100.1 (8th), Suns – 104.4 (22nd)

Disturbing trends –

Per game averages for these specific stats:

  • Total Rebounds Allowed – 40.5
  • Offensive Rebounds Allowed – 11.6
  • Points in the Paint Allowed – 44.4
  • 2nd Chance Points Allowed – 14.3
  • Points Allowed – 100.4

Per game averages for the last three games (vs. Chicago, Denver, and Milwaukee):

  • Total Rebounds Allowed – 45.7
  • Offensive Rebounds Allowed – 17.0
  • Points in the Paint Allowed – 60.0
  • 2nd Chance Points Allowed – 19.3
  • Points Allowed – 113.3

Chicago, Denver, and Milwaukee aren’t necessarily known as offensive juggernauts. The defensive struggles on the inside are strange, but may be related to one of three things: a lingering injury to Steven Adams, an increase in playing time for Enes Kanter, or a lack of stops from the perimeter level of the defense (i.e. the guards).

This is the 2nd of 4 meetings between the Thunder and Suns. The Thunder won the first meeting 124-103, behind 32 points from Kevin Durant, 21 points each from Russell Westbrook and Kanter, and 19 from Dion Waiters.

The Opposition

The Suns come into this game as a team in flux. They just lost their best player, Eric Bledsoe, to a torn meniscus, for the season. Head coach Jeff Hornacek’s seat is getting hotter with every loss. Markieff Morris is coming back from a 2 game suspension after allegedly throwing a towel at Hornacek.

Morris’ return should help the team. Brandon Knight has been inconsistent the last few games as he assumes Bledsoe’s role by himself. Devin Booker has gotten a lot better as his playing time has increased. TJ Warren is starting to produce more in his increased role.

3 Big Things

1.Attack the Paint

Aside from Tyson Chandler, who now comes off the bench, the Suns lack a true shot blocker. Westbrook and Durant may produce a lot of the offense from their work in the paint.

2. Perimeter Defense

The Suns have players that can quickly get hot from 3, such as Booker, Knight, Mirza Teletovic, and PJ Tucker. Defending the three point shot could be key to this game, because the Thunder will likely focus on the interior due to their recent defensive struggles.

3. Boomer Sooner

Go OU (and OSU tomorrow)!