- When: Sunday, 07 January 2018 at 7:00 pm CST
- Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, AZ
- TV: FSOK
- Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
- Line: OKC -8.0 | O/U – 222
The Oklahoma City Thunder kicked off the New Year in resounding fashion, taking care of business in Los Angeles on a back to back against the Lakers and Clippers. The Lakers game was a blow-out, while the Clippers game was more of a close, back and forth affair that necessitated an assist from the bench in the fourth quarter to eventually close the game out.
This team is finding ways to win games in different ways, which is a mark of a great team. With the personnel that it has, many think the team’s identity is on the offensive end of the floor. But this team cuts it’s teeth on the defensive end of the floor. And that has allowed them to win games in different fashion. Want to run your offense from the post? The Thunder have the personnel to combat that. Want to be a quick-strike, run and gun offense? The Thunder have shown the ability to switch nearly every position and defend that also. If the onus that “defense wins championships” holds true, this team may just be getting started in terms of winning games.
This is the first of three meetings this season between the Thunder and Suns.
The Suns some into this game with a 15-26 record, having gone 5-5 in their last 10 games. After a tumultuous start to the season that saw their former head coach Earl Watson get fired, the team has played a lot better overall. Third year shooting guard Devin Booker continues to impress on the offensive end, putting up 24.8 points per game on nearly 39% shooting from deep. TJ Warren’s game, while good, hasn’t really progressed more than what it was when he came into the league. His 3-point shooting has regressed, but’s he’s still a threat from the mid-range. Early season acquisition Greg Monroe gives this team some scoring from the inside.
Three Big Things
The Suns rank number 3 in the league in pace. The young guns like to go up and down the court at break neck speed. The Thunder on the other hand rank in the bottom third of the league in terms of pace. The Thunder have the ability to run with the Suns, but will more likely want to slow it down a bit and do a little more half court execution.
2. Devin Booker
With Andre Roberson being out, the Booker assignment will likely go to Paul George. Booker has carte blanche out of the Suns’ offense, so it may be more of a group assignment with George, Terrance Ferguson, and Josh Huestis.
3. Paint scoring
The Suns allow the third most points in the paint in the NBA at 48.5 points per game. Even though the Thunder don’t necessarily score a ton of points in the paint, if the team they are facing does not have a good interior presence defensively, the Thunder will take advantage of that.