Thunder @ Bucks preview (Game 7 of 82)

okc logo @ bucks

  • When: Tuesday, 31 October 2017 at 7:00 pm CST
  • Where: BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI
  • TV: NBATV/FSOK
  • Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
  • Line: OKC -1.5 | O/U – 212.5

Consistency is something the Oklahoma City Thunder have been lacking this season. Play one great game and follow it up with a subpar game. And while a lot of that may have to do with the opponent (all the losses have come against teams that will likely be in the playoffs), the Thunder have got to start winning those games.

Tonight is no different. After obliterating the Chicago Bulls on Saturday, the Thunder face one of the up and coming teams in the East in the Milwaukee Bucks. Giannis Antetokounmpo is playing like a bonafide MVP candidate and the rest of the team is playing well in their roles. 

This is the type of game where Oklahoma City gets too comfortable in thinking they can wing it until the fourth quarter and then find themselves down by too much of a deficit to overcome. It’s still early in the season, so bad habits can still be broken. But the team has to want to break them.

The Opponent

The Bucks come into this game with a 4-2 record. They, of course, are led by Antetokounmpo who leads the league in scoring at 34.7 points per game, and leads the Bucks in rebounds, assists, steals, and turnovers. It’s almost like Antetokounmpo has become the Buck’s 6’11 version of last season’s Russell Westbrook.

After spending much of last season on the injured list, Khris Middleton is back providing scoring relief for the Bucks. Although he has struggled from deep (only 25%), the necessity of volume shooting/scoring has still made Middleton effective. Reigning rookie of the year Malcolm Brogdon has increased his scoring output and has improved as a 3-point shooter. Tony Snell also appears to have turned into a better 3-point shooter since he arrived in Milwaukee last season.

Up front, the Bucks are long, but lean. Thon Maker and John Henson make up 2/3rd of their big man patrol. While they each possess 7+ foot wingspans, they don’t have a lot of body mass, getting pushed around on rebound attempts. Their only true center, Greg Monroe, will be out for the next two weeks with a calf strain.

Injuries

  • Oklahoma City – None
  • Milwaukee – Jabari Parker (knee), Greg Monroe (calf)

Three Big Things

1. Rebounding

The Bucks are last in the league in the Offensive Rebound %, while the Thunder are last in the league in Defensive Rebound %. Something’s got to give. With Monroe being out, the Bucks don’t really have anyone on the interior that can compete with Steven Adams’ strength. They definitely have the length, but if Adams is able to box out and control the paint, there should be no reason why he doesn’t rack up at least 10 rebounds tonight.

2. Antetokounmpo: The Match-up Nightmare

Last season, the Bucks played Antetokounmpo at small forward and the Thunder countered with Andre Roberson, who actually does a decent job guarding him. But this year, Antetokounmpo is almost exclusively a power forward and so the job of guarding him would hypothetically fall on Carmelo Anthony. I think the Thunder still put Roberson on Antetokounmpo, while hiding Anthony on Snell. Josh Huestis and/or Terrance Ferguson could see some extended minutes in this game because of the problematic match-ups with all the wings.

3. Defensive Match-up

These two teams are two of the most aggressive defenses in the league. There will be arms all over the place and deflections galore. The team the protects the ball the best, likely has the upper hand in this game.

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