Nick Gallo previews tonight’s Thunder/Warriors match-up: “The Thunder’s three-point defense has struggled over the past few weeks, even during the midst of the team’s eight-game winning streak, not just during this current four game losing skid. In fact, the Thunder has allowed 12.3 made three-pointers per game over the last 10 contests, and now it has to contend with perhaps the most talented three-point shooting team the NBA has to offer – the Golden State Warriors. With Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant are all shooting above 41 percent on three-pointers this season, and attempt a combined 23.5 per game. The Thunder’s first job in protecting the line is to show a wall of defenders to stop fast breaks from happening. Next, the Thunder has to be strong in containing the ball at the point of attack and then getting out to contest shots off of Warriors passes.”
Warriors.com previews the game from the other side: “For a team stocked with veterans, the Thunder sure are streaky. In chronological order, since December 18, Oklahoma City has alternated a six-game winning streak, a two-game losing streak, a two-game winning streak, a three-game losing streak, an eight-game winning streak, and now enter Tuesday’s matchup with the Warriors having lost their last four games. Russell Westbrook, the league’s reigning MVP, isn’t far off from averaging a triple-double for the second-straight year with 25.4 points, 9.4 rebounds and 10.3 assists per contest. Meanwhile, offseason additions Paul George and Carmelo Anthony have given Oklahoma City a collection of star power that perhaps only the Warriors can rival. Golden State has won seven in a row over the Thunder at Oracle Arena, and given how their first encounter this year worked out, the Dubs will have all the motivation necessary to attempt to push that streak one game further.”
Royce Young on the Thunder defense without Andre Roberson: “It’s not that the Thunder have dropped off a cliff defensively, though (they remain No. 5 in defensive efficiency). In the four-game losing streak they’re allowing 106.1 points per 100, compared to 103.1 in the 59 games before. It’s quite the luxury for OKC to have George, one of the world’s best defenders, to step in and take on more primary matchups after losing Roberson. But it’s a heavier load on George. For example, the Thunder played the Wizards twice in the past two weeks, five days apart, once with Roberson and once without. In the first meeting, George guarded All-Star Bradley Beal in the halfcourt 22 times, with Roberson taking him 31 times, according to Second Spectrum. In the second meeting, George had Beal 43 times, nearly three times as much as any other OKC defender.”
Tony Jones (Salt Lake Tribune) on Thunder interest in Rodney Hood: “With the NBA’s trade deadline looming Thursday, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons are all showing interest in acquiring Utah Jazz shooting guard Rodney Hood, The Salt Lake Tribune has learned. League sources say the Denver Nuggets and Orlando Magic have also shown at least a passing interest in Hood, who is set to be a restricted free agent this summer. Hood’s name has been mentioned in trade talks for a few weeks, and the Jazz have been active on the market in an attempt to fortify their roster for the remainder of the season.”
Sean Deveney (Sporting News) mentions the Thunder is interested in Dewayne Dedmon: “Ideally, the Hawks could fetch a late first-rounder for Dedmon. But first-round picks will be hard to come by on Thursday, and no one’s giving up a first-round pick for a few months of Dedmon, even as he has played better since returning. Still, the Bucks have expressed interest, sources told Sporting News, and though the Sixers are expected to make a push for help on the wing, there’s been some interest from Philadelphia, which will have four second-round picks in this year’s draft. Oklahoma City, too, is looking for wing help, but has interest in Dedmon for frontcourt depth.”
Zach Buckley (B/R) picks Alex Abrines as the most tradable player on the Thunder roster: “Since the Thunder can’t trade a first-round pick before 2024, they’ll have to pull someone from their roster to make a bigger splash than just waiting for the buyout market. Alex Abrines seems the likeliest candidate, since his shooting stroke will attract suitors and his defensive shortcomings could make OKC deem him expendable. Save for raw rookie Terrance Ferguson, no one on the roster has a worse defensive rating than Abrines. That’s why his floor time comes sporadically, even while this offense sometimes screams for more spacing. Jerami Grant, Josh Huestis and even Ferguson could all make appearances on the rumor mill, but Abrines’ wavering role and clearly defined skill give him the highest odds.”
Ramona Shelburne on the Lakers shifting their attention to the 2019 free agency class: “The Lakers aren’t abandoning a summer pursuit of stars, but rather recalibrating their focus on a 2019 class that could include San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard, Golden State’s Klay Thompson and Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler, league sources told ESPN. The belief has been that the Lakers were cutting an unapologetic path to salary cap freedom for two maximum contract slots this July, clearing the way toward a pursuit of superstars like Cleveland’s LeBron James, Oklahoma City’s Paul George and New Orleans’ DeMarcus Cousins. Now, Cousins has a torn Achilles tendon, George has suggested to ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that the Thunder have an advantage in re-signing him and James is believed to have a reluctance toward signing with the Lakers without an established star immediately joining him.”
Around the League: Dirk Nowitzki topped 50,000 career minutes…. Donovan Mitchell will replace Aaron Gordon in the dunk contest…. Tyler Zeller was traded to the Nets…. Inside the chaos in Cleveland…. What to expect at the trade deadline.