76ers vs. Thunder preview (Game 50 of 82)

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  • When: Sunday, 28 January 2018 at 5:00 pm CST
  • Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
  • TV: ESPN/FSOK
  • Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
  • Line: OKC -4.0 | O/U – 213

Star date: Day 1, post Andre Roberson.

The Injury Reaper was busy on Friday and Saturday. It went on an easterly track, going from New Orleans to Memphis and then, finally, to Detroit. It took out three key players that will have an impact on the rest of the season moving forward. The first victim was New Orleans Pelicans big man DeMarcus Cousins, who was struck down by a torn Achilles tendon on Friday. Then Saturday morning, the Memphis Grizzlies released a statement stating point guard Mike Conley, who had been out since November, would miss the remainder of the season with surgery on his bothersome heel/foot.And finally the Thunder, who have avoided major injury for much of the past three seasons, saw Andre Roberson go down with an ugly patella tear in his left leg early Saturday evening. Line-up wise, the Thunder are a bit of a fragile group. In the 31 games in which the starting line-up has been whole, the Thunder are 19-12. When one of the starters is out, the team is 10-8.

The importance of Roberson on the defensive side of the ball cannot be overstated. The Thunder outscore their opponents by 10 points per 100 possessions when Roberson is in the game. When he’s off the floor, the Thunder get outscored by 0.9 points per 100 possessions. When Roberson is on the floor, the Thunder allow 96.4 points per 100 possessions. With Roberson off the floor, that numbers jumps up to 108.3 points per 100 possessions. Most recently, the Thunder played 8 games with Roberson out of the line-up with patellar tendonitis in early January. They went 4-4 during that stretch, losing some very winnable games pretty handily.

Simply put, there will be an adjustment period for the Thunder. About the only positive that can be gleaned from this is the fact the injury occurred January 27th and not February 9th (the day after the trade deadline).

Previous Meeting: The Thunder won a triple overtime thriller in mid-December, 119-117. This is the final meeting of the regular season between these two teams.

Looking At The Numbers

1. Rebounding – The Thunder and 76ers are two of the top rebounding teams in the league. Philadelphia is number one in Overall Rebound Percentage, while Oklahoma City is number one in Offensive Rebound Percentage. Both feature bruising big men and rebounding point guards. The winner of this statistical category may go a long way in determining the winner of the game.

2. Turnovers – Probably the 76ers’ Achilles heel. They turn the ball over on 17.5% of their possessions leading to 18 turnovers per game, which are both the worst in the NBA. Even worse for the 76ers, the Thunder cause the most turnovers in the league. If the Thunder can keep this trend going, it will help them towards getting a win.

3. Trash-Talk – Joel Embiid was living up to the moniker ‘Troll’el Embiid early in the season, hopping on social media before and after every game and heaping a fair amount of trash talk on his opponents. That seems to have quieted down from the middle of December on. That may be because he ran into Russell Westbrook, who kind of trolled Embiid on his own home floor in the end of their thrilling triple-overtime game. With Embiid now coming to OKC, we’ll see if he has anything to say before, during, or after the game.

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