Kings vs. Thunder preview (Game 3 of 82)

kings vs okc logo

  • When: Sunday, 21 October 2018 at 6:00 pm CST
  • Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
  • TV: FSOK
  • Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
  • Line: OKC -10.0 | O/U: 217.5

One of the biggest issues last season for the Oklahoma City Thunder was not winning the games they were supposed to win. Last season, the Thunder were 26-14 against non-playoff opponents. That, by itself, isn’t terrible. It’s a .650 winning percentage, which is great in any league. But when combined with the Thunder’s record against playoff teams (22-20), that’s where the problem lies.

If the Thunder would’ve won two more games against the non-playoff teams, they would’ve nabbed the No. 3 spot in the West and another division title. Instead, they lucked into the 4th seed and faced the Utah Jazz, who eliminated them in 6 games. The regular season doesn’t really matter for the experienced championship contenders, like the Golden State Warriors or Houston Rockets. But to a team with players who haven’t experienced that type of playoff success, home-court advantage over multiple rounds would be great.

The Recent Life of the Opponent

Like the Thunder, the Sacramento Kings come into this game with an 0-2 record. They’ve lost to two playoff hopefuls in the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans. But even though they lost, they averaged 123 points in each game. Willie Cauley-Stein has become a focal point in the offense, while De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield are close to being a 20 ppg backcourt duo.

Injuries

Thunder

  • Russell Westbrook (knee) – Game-time decision
  • Andre Roberson (knee) – Out

Kings

  • Kosta Koufos (hamstring) – Out

Three Big Things

1. Pace

Sacramento ranks 2nd in pace, producing 110.5 possessions per game. The Thunder, on the other hand, a.k.a the team that wanted to run this season, ranks 21st at 102.25 possessions per game. Instead of living in wonder land and thinking they can keep up with the young and athletic Kings, maybe the Thunder should think about generating good looks and working their offense. Protect the ball, slow the game down, and make it a defensive game, which is not in Sacramento’s wheelhouse.

2. Paul George’s shooting

He has got to be more efficient. I don’t know if those 18-20 ounces of blood need to be pumped back into his elbow, but his shooting has been atrocious to start the season. Everything else from PG has been great. He’s been great defensively, has been an effective play-maker, and seems to be taking on great responsibility as a leader. But that shooting….yeesh!

3. Westbrook

For all the talk about Dennis Schröder being a suitable replacement for Westbrook, we tend to forget the monster that Russell Westbrook is. He is needed for this team’s concepts to work. Here’s hoping he comes back tonight.

Prediction: Westbrook comes back, this game becomes a barn-burner, and the Thunder win 118-107.

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