- When: Thursday, 01 February at 9:30 pm CST
- Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO
- TV: TNT/FSOK
- Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
- Line: OKC -1.0 | O/U – 217
The Set-Up: I’ve noticed in my adult years that even an hour of change in my routine can mess me up for about a week. It doesn’t matter whether I gain an hour of sleep or lose an hour of sleep, it messes me up all the same. Now imagine if over a seven day period, you change time-zones five times. That’s enough to mess up anyone’s circadian rhythm, especially a routine-based athlete.
As Fred Katz of the Norman Transcript explained, this has been a particularly grueling stretch for the Thunder, who have had to employ strategies to help the players get more rest, such as cancelling the last two game day shootarounds. This is the curse of living in the middle of the country. The Thunder don’t necessarily have to make long road trips because of their proximity to everything, but they time-zone hop a lot more. Whereas an East Coast team may make a five game road trip over an eight day period, most of that time may be spent in one time zone (i.e. West Coast trip playing the four California teams and Portland).
Tonight’s game will be no different. The Thunder went from OKC to Washington D.C. on the 30th. Then flew from D.C. to Denver on January 31st to play the Nuggets at 8:30 PM MST tonight. Then they will hop back on a plane tonight and head back to Oklahoma City where they likely won’t meet their beds until about 3 AM. Then, they’ll have to face the New Orleans Pelicans tomorrow. In conclusion, over a 5 day period, they’ll have gone from Central to Eastern, then Eastern to Mountain, and then Mountain to Central. That can definitely wreck havoc on the amount of energy a player has.
Previous Meetings: The Nuggets and Thunder have met two times previous to this meeting. They’ve split their season series so far, with the home team winning each time. In November, the Nuggets won in Denver, 102-94. In December, the Thunder won 95-94 in OKC. These two teams will have their final meeting on March 30th.
Looking At The Numbers
1. Rebounding – For all intents and purposes, these are the two best rebounding teams in the league. They are 1 & 2 in Offensive Rebound Percentage and 2 & 3 in Overall Rebound Percentage. Because of this, they are also 1 & 4 in 2nd chance points per game. These two teams may play to a draw in category. But if one team dominates, it may push them them to emerge the victor in this game.
2. Interior Defense – The Thunder are one of the best interior defending teams in the league, allowing just 41.6 points in the paint per game. The Nuggets, on the other hand, are one of the best post scoring teams in the league, averaging 48.2 points per game in that category. This almost seems like an immovable object vs. unstoppable force kind of conundrum.
3. Make Them Defend – The Nuggets do a great job of defending without fouling. They average the 2nd least amount of fouls per game at just 17.8 per. There are some games where it seems like the Thunder rack up that many fouls in a quarter (I’m looking at your Tony Brothers). The Thunder will need to force the issue and not just settle for jump-shots.