- When: Tuesday, 16 October 2018 at 9:30 pm CST
- Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
- TV: TNT
- Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
- Line: GS -13.0 | O/U: 220.5
Even with the uncertainty surrounding Andre Roberson’s recovery from patella tendon surgery and Russell Westbrook’s recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery, there’s a sense of calm as the Oklahoma City Thunder embark on the 2018-19 season. Over the past three seasons, the beginning of the season has usually been accompanied with the unknown dread associated with the upcoming free agency decisions of key players on the team.
With Paul George’s guaranteed 3-year extension this summer, all that uncertainty was put to rest for the foreseeable future. The Thunder’s main core of Westbrook, George, and Steven Adams is guaranteed to be together for at least the next three seasons. Even Dennis Schröder, who could possibly become a main cog in the Thunder’s wheel, is also under contract for the next three seasons.
That kind of comfort is something that can’t be measured with statistics or analytics. But it is something that will help this team this season. There is no longer a feeling that every game will have an impact on a future signing. The organization can just be: The players can play, the coaches can coach, and the front office can make moves around a stable core. It’s something the Thunder haven’t known for awhile.
The Recent Life of the Opponent
The Golden State Warriors just finished a 1-4 preseason campaign. Which, of course, means they are well on their way to a lottery-bound season. And if you believe that, I have some oceanfront property in Oklahoma to sell you. The Warriors will be fine. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson ranked 2nd and 3rd, respectively, in made 3’s in the preseason. And no one on the team, outside of DeMarcus Cousins, is injured. It will be business as usual for these Warriors.
- Russell Westbrook (knee) – Out
- Andre Roberson (knee) – Out
- Steven Adams (back) – Game-time Decision
- DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles) – Out
- Damion Lee (plantar fasciitis) – Out
Three Big Things
1. Perimeter Defense
As is always the case with the Warriors, the key to beating them is limiting their efficiency from deep. With three of the greatest shooters ever in tow, there is never a time to relax when any of Curry, Thompson, or Kevin Durant are on the floor. Against most teams, the Thunder play an inside-out defense, where they collectively sink into the paint and then try to recover on shooters. But against the Warriors, they tend to play more of a balanced defense that focuses more on the shooters.
2. Steven Adams
Adams has historically done well against the Warriors, especially on the boards. Last season, Adams averaged 10.5 rebounds per game against the Warriors, with nearly 5 of those rebounds coming on the offensive end. The Warriors will try to counter Adams with 2nd-year big man Damian Jones, who has had a good preseason. Adams is a game-time decision with a sore back.
3. No Westbrook, No Problem
Selfishly, I wanted Westbrook to channel his inner-Willis Reed and make a grand entrance into this game. Unfortunately, that was not in the cards. With that said, the pragmatic part of me knows that championships aren’t won in the first game of the season. And thankfully, the Thunder have an apt back-up point guard in Dennis Schröder who should keep the team competitive against the Warriors. Hopefully, Dennis will introduce the world to The Schrodie.
Prediction: Thunder keep it close into the 2nd half, but the Warriors eventually run away with it, 111-97.