Thunder @ Nets Preview (Game 23 of 82)

okc logo at bkn nets

  • When: Wednesday, 05 December 2018 at 6:30 pm CST
  • Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
  • TV: FSOK
  • Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
  • Line: OKC -6.5 | O/U: 220.5
  • Off Rating: OKC – 107.9 (17th) | BKN – 108.2 (14th)
  • Def Rating: OKC – 100.5 (1st) | BKN – 110.2 (21st)

Having an identity is so important to succeeding in the NBA. When the game gets close and the time starts running out, the identity of the team is what usually leads them to victory. The Oklahoma City Thunder have been without an identity since Kevin Durant decided to pack his bags and head to Oakland two summers ago.

Two seasons ago, the team’s identity was Russell Westbrook and Russell Westbrook only. They tried to rely on players like Victor Oladipo and Steven Adams, but those two players were still a little too green to perform every time their number was called. The following season, the team seemed to get some battled-tested vets (Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton, and Patrick Patterson), but the team’s identity completely fell apart once Andre Roberson went down with his injury in late January.

This season, though, the team seemed hellbent on two things: using the length they had available to them on their roster to be a defensive juggernaut and getting depth at positions of need (namely, the wing). And with that, the team formulated their identity. A defensive machine able to guard, not only the interior, but also the perimeter. Their dominance on one end of the court has allowed them to take chances on the other end. The Thunder, once stuck in the mid-range and in the paint, have attempted to change their plan of attack to also include more three-point shots. And it has worked, for the most part. Now, when the game gets tight, the Thunder know what they can rely upon.

The Recent Life of the Opponent

The Brooklyn Nets come into this game with an 8-17 record, losers of their last seven games. They may be a rebuilding team, but when their best players are on, they can beat anybody. Over a 10-day stretch at the beginning of November, they beat Detroit, Phoenix, and Denver on the road and took down Philadelphia at home.

Injuries

Oklahoma City

  • Andre Roberson (knee) – Out

Brooklyn

  • Caris LeVert (ankle) – Out
  • Treveon Graham (hamstring) – Out

Three Big Things

1. Perimeter Defense

The Brooklyn Nets aren’t scared to let the 3’s fly. They are 5th in the league in 3pt FG attempts at 34.8 attempts per game. The Nets have four players that shoot over five attempts per game, with each of them shooting at least 34% from deep for the season. The Thunder’s perimeter defenders will have to do a good job of staying close to the shooters and having them step inside the 3-point line to initiate their offense.

2. Offensive Rebounding

The Nets are a middling team in most statistical categories. Where they struggle, though, is on the defensive glass. They grab only 70% of the available defensive rebounds, which ranks them 27th in the league. They give up the 3rd most 2nd chance points in the league at 15.7 points per game. The Thunder, on the other hand, are 2nd in the league in second chance points at 16 points per game and 2nd in Offensive Rebound percentage. If Steven Adams is able to dominate Jarrett Allen on the offensive glass, this could be one of the things that leads to a Thunder victory.

3. Hamidou Diallo

This game will serve as a sort of homecoming for Hamidou Diallo, who grew up in Queens. The rookie guard, who has missed the last five games with a sprained ankle, has been available to the Thunder for the last two games. Diallo has been practicing with the team, and took part in a full practice yesterday, although none of the practice involved contact.

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