Rockets vs. Thunder Primer (Preseason Gm. 1)

rockets logo VS. okc logo

  • When: Tuesday, 03 October 2017 at 7:00 pm CST
  • Where: BOK Center, Tulsa, OK
  • TV: NBATV
  • Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))

They say every journey begins with one step. For the Oklahoma City Thunder, this game represent the first step in what they hope to be a season that stretches all the way into June. Many a team is crowned in the preseason, only to flame out when the real games begin. But sometimes, teams are forged and crystallized in the preseason to become what they were meant to become.

The Thunder bring, what is in essence, a brand new team into this season. Two of the starters have been replaced by All-Star level players. And much of the reserve unit has also been changed. While it may seem easy to take two role-playing starters and replace them with two All-Stars, a seamless transition doesn’t always happen. There is, as has been mentioned before, only one ball on the court. 

And this is the specific reason why preseason games are played. A team can only go so far in practice before it actually has to apply their training to real game situations. Scrimmages within the team are fun, but no one really plays 100% in those games. It’s time to play against players you don’t know. Players you may not like. It’s time for basketball.

The Opponent

A lot like the Thunder, the Houston Rockets come into this season with some new faces. Chris Paul joined the Rockets via trade before the start of free agency. While still considered one of the best point guards in the league, the Rockets had to give up fan favorite Patrick Beverly, third year forwards Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell, and 6th Man of the Year candidate Lou Williams to acquire him. That’s a lot of depth to give up for an aging point guard who hasn’t played in more than 62 games in four of the last eight seasons.

The Rockets also solidified their perimeter defense by signing rugged forward P.J. Tucker to a 4-year deal this offseason. The Rockets, who finished third in the conference last year before succumbing to the San Antonio Spurs in the second round of the playoffs, should once again be contenders to knock off the Golden State Warriors. Houston will still have a high-powered offense, but now has a better defense to keep their game more balanced.

Injuries

  • OKC – Russell Westbrook (knee), Patrick Patterson (knee), Alex Abrines (knee)
  • HOU – Nene (rest), Tarik Black (knee)

 Three Big Things

1. Perimeter Defense

The Rockets’ offense is predicated on the 3-point shot. They attempted a league leading 40.3 three-point attempts per game and, consequently, made a league leading 14.4 threes per game. While Paul is more of a mid-range master, he still has the ability to fill it up from deep, making 41.1% of his trifecta attempts last season.

I’ll be interested to see how Carmelo Anthony does on the defensive end. He’ll likely be on Ryan Anderson, but will probably a lot of pick and rolls involving James Harden and Chris Paul.

2. Paul George/Carmelo Anthony in Thunder uniforms

I don’t know about you. But it still feels a bit surreal that Paul George AND Carmelo Anthony will both be in a Thunder uniform tonight. The fact the Thunder were able to acquire that amount of talent without giving up any assets that will affect OKC’s future was brilliant. I’m looking forward to seeing how they mesh tonight.

3. James Harden vs. Andre Roberson

This match-up is always must-see TV in my book. Harden is probably the best shooting guard in the league, and Roberson is, arguably, the player best suited to guard him. It won’t be playoff intense, but it will still be a game in which they are competing against one another.

 

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