Melbourne United vs. Thunder primer (Preseason Game 3)

Melbourne_United_Web_Logo vs. okc logo

  • When: Sunday, 08 October 2017 at 2:00 pm CST
  • Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
  • TV: FSOK
  • Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
  • Podcast Preview: Skip over to 56:50 to listen to the preview

The Oklahoma City Thunder have played differing styles in their first two preseason games. In their first game, they played against a perimeter-oriented Houston Rockets team that launched 55 three-pointers against them. In their second game, they played against a New Orleans Pelicans team that featured two of the best post players in the league in DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis.

Now they are playing a team that isn’t even in the NBA. Talk about running the gamut in terms of playing styles. It’s a good thing for the Thunder to be playing so many different styles. With much of their roster turning over this offseason, the Thunder need to face as many different situations as possible to get acclimated to life in the NBA. Playing a team that competes in an entirely different league (not to mention country) certainly fits that bill. 

The Big 3 project is certainly getting off to a good start. On Friday, they scored 22 of 28 points in the first quarter. Russell Westbrook didn’t play in the final three quarters. Instead, Paul George was given the reins and scored 25 points in 27 minutes. Carmelo Anthony played the role of third option scoring 9 points and grabbing 6 rebounds.

The Opponent

Melbourne United comes into this game having won the first game of their season in the National Basketball League in Australia. They played against Terrance Ferguson’s former team, the Adelaide 36ers, beating 99-97. That game happened on October 5th, and the team was on the plane to Oklahoma City right after that.

The team features former NBA player David Andersen, who played two seasons in the NBA with the Rockets, Toronto Raptors, and New Orleans Hornets from 2009 to 2011. Josh Boone, of UCONN fame, is one of the featured big men on the team. Casper Ware is a smaller point guard, very much in the mold of Isaiah Thomas. He has his issues because of height, but can get hot in a second and score points in bunches. Thunder head coach will be very familiar with guard/forward Casey Prather, who played at Florida under Donovan. Melbourne United’s best player, though, is Chris Goulding, a guard that can basically do it all. Unfortunately, he’ll be out for United after having his appendix removed.

Injuries

  • Oklahoma City – Alex Abrines (knee), Patrick Patterson (knee)
  • Melbourne – Chris Goulding (appendix), Daniel Dillon (Achilles)

Three Big Things

1. Battle Lines Drawn

In an interview after practice on Saturday, Russell Westbrook laid out what may be considered bulletin board material for the team from Australia.

2. Defending Melbourne

David Andersen, as a multi-faceted big man, could possibly be a match-up problem for Steven Adams. Andersen will take Adams outside the paint and put him in uncomfortable situations defensively. He and Casper Ware run a good pick and role, so defending that will be key to stopping Melbourne. Likely, on the other end of the floor, Prather will be awaiting as a release valve or another dribble penetrator.

3. Steven Adams

Steven Adams has had a bit of a weird preseason. But it may not be all his fault. It doesn’t seem like George or Anthony really know how to use him on the offensive end of the floor. They are just using him as a screener, but not necessarily a roller. That will come with time and with Westbrook being on the floor.

Melbourne United is smallish on the post. Andersen doesn’t venture in there too much and Boone and Majok Majok are both just 6’9″. This should be a game where Adams dominates on the inside offensively and grabs at least 8 rebounds.

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