Category Archives: Thunder Pre-game Report

Pre-game post

Timberwolves vs. Thunder preview (Game 3 of 82)

twolves vs. okc logo

  • When: Sunday, 22 October 2017 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 -4.0 | O/U – 210.5

Six points? Six points for current MVP, Russell Westbrook. Much of the credit needs to go to the Utah defense, who executed a great defensive game plan. But it didn’t much seem like Westbrook was trying to attack the defense, either. He almost looked like he was settling. And the words Westbrook and settling don’t necessarily go together in a sentence.

Westbrook is known for his attacking nature and his ‘never say die’ style of play. But last night, he seemed almost content with passing the ball to Carmelo Anthony and Paul George and letting them shoot the Oklahoma City Thunder out of the rut they were in. The Westbrook from last season would have looked at the Westbrook from last night and wondered ‘what the hell are you doing?’.  Continue reading Timberwolves vs. Thunder preview (Game 3 of 82)

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Thunder vs. Jazz preview (Game 2 of 82)

utah jazz vs. okc logo

  • When: Saturday, 21 October 2017 at 8:00 pm CST
  • Where: Vivent Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
  • TV: FSOK
  • Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
  • Line: OKC -4.5 | O/U – 200

There was a point in the Thunder vs. Knicks game with around four minutes left in the 2nd quarter where the score was tied at 40. You could tell there was a nervousness in the arena, wondering if this Big 3 experiment was going to work. Then, the Thunder finally woke up and went on a 22-6 run that essentially put the game away.

It was eye-opening because there are going to be a lot of nights like this for the Thunder. The Knicks are not a top-tier team at all and will likely have one of the worst defenses in the league this season. But seeing the team turn it on and nitrous boost their way past the Knicks in an 8 minutes span was positive in many ways.  Continue reading Thunder vs. Jazz preview (Game 2 of 82)

Knicks vs. Thunder Primer (Game 1 of 82)

knicks logo vs. okc logo

  • When: Thursday, 19 October 2017 at 7:00 pm CST
  • Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
  • TV: TNT
  • Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
  • Line: OKC -12.0 | O/U – 215

Ten years strong and we’ve almost seen it all. We’ve seen two MVP’s. We’ve seen one Coach of the Year. We’ve seen one 6th Man of the Year. We’ve seen four Western Conference championship appearances. We’ve seen one NBA Finals appearance. We’ve seen injuries derail promising seasons. We’ve seen front office moves that have left us cheering and ones that have left us confuzzled (confused and puzzled). We’ve seen players we love traded. And we’ve seen players who were once heroes to us turn into absolute villains.  Continue reading Knicks vs. Thunder Primer (Game 1 of 82)

Thunder vs. Nuggets Primer (Preseason Game 4)

nuggs vs. okc logo

  • When: Tuesday, 10 October 2017 at 8:00 pm CST
  • Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO
  • TV: FSOK
  • Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))

It’s been kind of a mixed bag when the Big 3 are out there on the court for the Oklahoma City Thunder. In the first three games of the preseason, they have been on the court together for only 20 minutes. They have been joined in large part by Andre Roberson and Steven Adams, but have also seen time with Jerami Grant and Terrance Ferguson. Here are a couple findings via NBAWowy:

  • In that time frame, they’ve scored 22 points to their opponent’s 17 points.
  • They were 7/9 from inside the arc, but only 1/5 beyond the arc.
  • Out of the Big 3, George performed the worst, shooting just 1/4 from the field.
  • In their time together, Westbrook was the only one of the Big 3 to make an attempt at the rim. George and Anthony took all their shots from the perimeter (16+ feet out) when the Big 3 were together.
  • Adams and Roberson benefited from the attention being paid to the Big 3, going 3/3 from the field in their attempts.
  • Their time together led to 8 free throw attempts.

Continue reading Thunder vs. Nuggets Primer (Preseason Game 4)

Melbourne United vs. Thunder primer (Preseason Game 3)

Melbourne_United_Web_Logo vs. okc logo

  • When: Sunday, 08 October 2017 at 2:00 pm CST
  • Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
  • TV: FSOK
  • Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
  • Podcast Preview: Skip over to 56:50 to listen to the preview

The Oklahoma City Thunder have played differing styles in their first two preseason games. In their first game, they played against a perimeter-oriented Houston Rockets team that launched 55 three-pointers against them. In their second game, they played against a New Orleans Pelicans team that featured two of the best post players in the league in DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis.

Now they are playing a team that isn’t even in the NBA. Talk about running the gamut in terms of playing styles. It’s a good thing for the Thunder to be playing so many different styles. With much of their roster turning over this offseason, the Thunder need to face as many different situations as possible to get acclimated to life in the NBA. Playing a team that competes in an entirely different league (not to mention country) certainly fits that bill.  Continue reading Melbourne United vs. Thunder primer (Preseason Game 3)

Pelicans vs. Thunder Primer (Preseason Game 2)

pelicansvs. okc logo

  • When: Friday, 06 October 2017 at 7:00 pm CST
  • Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
  • TV: okcthunder.com or the OKC Thunder app (stream)
  • Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))

One preseason game down. Oklahoma City Thunder fans finally got to see what Paul George and Carmelo Anthony will look like in Thunder uniforms. It didn’t always flow smoothly, but the set-up for something bigger was there. The two of the Big 3 who played put their vast array of skills on display. George showed his overall ability (offense and defense) and Anthony showed his shot-making ability.

Were there hiccups? Of course. George and Anthony overpassed a little, leading to a couple turnovers. In addition, they seemed a little lost on how to use Steven Adams. The chemistry developed between Russell Westbrook and Adams took about two seasons to actually produce fruit. It would be foolish to think the new players on the team would have immediate chemistry with the old players on the team. Continue reading Pelicans vs. Thunder Primer (Preseason Game 2)

Rockets vs. Thunder Primer (Preseason Gm. 1)

rockets logo VS. okc logo

  • When: Tuesday, 03 October 2017 at 7:00 pm CST
  • Where: BOK Center, Tulsa, OK
  • TV: NBATV
  • Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))

They say every journey begins with one step. For the Oklahoma City Thunder, this game represent the first step in what they hope to be a season that stretches all the way into June. Many a team is crowned in the preseason, only to flame out when the real games begin. But sometimes, teams are forged and crystallized in the preseason to become what they were meant to become.

The Thunder bring, what is in essence, a brand new team into this season. Two of the starters have been replaced by All-Star level players. And much of the reserve unit has also been changed. While it may seem easy to take two role-playing starters and replace them with two All-Stars, a seamless transition doesn’t always happen. There is, as has been mentioned before, only one ball on the court.  Continue reading Rockets vs. Thunder Primer (Preseason Gm. 1)

Summer League: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Clippers preview (Game 3 of 5)

christon thunder payton magic

  • When: Tuesday, 07 July 2015 at 4:00 PM CST
  • Where: Amway Center – Orlando Magic practice facility, Orlando, FL

The Oklahoma City Thunder showed what a team with a little bit of chemistry can get accomplished in their last game against the Orlando Magic Blue team. This Thunder team, which is mostly comprised of players from the Thunder’s Developmental League affiliate, the Blue,  have something a lot of teams in summer league do not have: familiarity. Whether its Semaj Christon knowing exactly what sets to run, Frank Gaines setting up in optimal spots to get wide open shots, or Talib Zanna and Richard Solomon knowing when to roll or where to rebound, its a team that knows itself. And that becomes very evident in the first couple games of summer league.

The Thunder find themselves sitting at 2-0, behind the Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic White team, who are also undefeated, but have either won more quarters than the Thunder or have won by a larger margin. There comes a point in summer league, where the players who are bonafide NBA players, rise to the top of the heap. That’s what happened in the last game as Mitch McGary and Aaron Gordon put on a show. Gordon finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds on 8-11 shooting, while showing a vast array of ball-handling skills and play-making ability. McGary on the other hand, finished with 19 points on 9-12 shooting, and showed a Magic Johnson-like ability to grab a rebound on one end of the court and start a one-man fast break towards the other end of the court, usually ending with a transition basket.

The Opponent

los angeles clippers summer league

The Los Angeles Clippers summer league team is currently 0-2, one of four teams in the Orlando Summer League to yet win a game. The team is comprised of several players who have NBA experience, but the chemistry appears to be lacking. The strength of the team lies in its backcourt duo of Nate Wolters and CJ Wilcox. Wolters has been in the league two years and is looking to latch onto to a team for this upcoming season. Wilcox, the Clippers’ first round selection from last season, played in only 21 games and is looking to expand his role on the team with the departure of Matt Barnes and Spencer Hawes. Another player looking to get picked up by a team for this upcoming season is Jordan Hamilton, who has four years of experience in the NBA. Hamilton is a versatile power forward who has played with Denver, Houston, and Los Angeles (Clippers) in his short career. Diante Garrett comes off the bench for this team and can be a spark plug 6th man. Royce White, who was last with the Sacramento Kings, is looking to get back in the league after issues with various front offices over his mental health caused him to get waived. Second round pick Branden Dawson is looking to see some action this season in the NBA and has shown a knack for rebounding and defense.

Three keys in the Game

1. Power forward match-up – Mitch McGary will have another tough match-up on his hands today going up against Jordan Hamilton. While not as versatile as Aaron Gordon, Hamilton is more of a post player, but can step out for the occasional 3-pointer. With the word out on McGary’s transition ability, look for the Clippers to get back on defense as soon as a shot goes up. McGary will likely further showcase his perimeter game today.

mcgary thunder

2. Attack the defense – Los Angeles has proven they can score in their two games, but they’ve also shown to be a bad defensive team, giving up 75 and 77 points, respectively. None of their players are known as defensive stalwarts and with Semaj Christon’s ability to get past the first line of defense and into the teeth of the defense, it could spell trouble for the Clippers.

3. Rebounding – Rebounding has been an issue for the Clippers this summer. Their only good rebounder is Branden Dawson, who has grabbed 19 boards total in the Clippers’ first two games. Look for Dakari Johnson and Talib Zanna to have double digit rebounding games today.

Orlando Summer League: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Orlando Magic Blue Team preview (Game 2 of 5)

thunder summer league

  • When: Monday, 06 July 2015 at 2:00 PM CST
  • Where: Orlando Magic practice facility, Orlando, FL

Summer league games are, in essence, exercises in hope. If you’ve watched summer league long enough, you know 80-90% of the guys on the court won’t ever make it to the NBA. If your name was not called in the first round, your chances of making it to the bigs drop significantly. With all that said, though, we still watch. If you are a true fan, you become familiar with all the players on the roster and even start to pick up little tidbits about them. A week later, unfortunately, all that knowledge gets cycled into the memory dump of our brains, and most of those players become but a distant memory. But as you watch the games, you start to notice things about players that may actually help your NBA roster.

After one game, the Oklahoma City Thunder sit at 1-0, having defeated the Charlotte Hornets 76-74. Lacking a dearth of NBA experience, the Thunder summer league roster depended on defense for key stretches in the game and on their back-court duo of Semaj Christon and Frank Gaines, who combined for 31 points. Christon notched a double-double with 14 points and 10 assists, while also hitting the deciding basket on a drive on the Thunder’s final possession. Mitch McGary and Dakari Johnson cleaned up well around the basket, each grabbing double digit rebound totals (24 rebounds total between the two). The spark off the bench came from Travis Bader who came into the game in the 2nd quarter, and quickly racked up 10 points on 2 3-point shots, a mid-range jumper, and 2 free throws. Defensively, McGary struggled a bit with Hornets’ rookie Frank Kaminsky, losing him several times on the pick and roll. Kaminsky finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Hornets, but did not score in the 4th quarter.

The Opponent

mario hezonja magic

Orlando brings two teams into their summer league. Their White team is made up mostly of guys that will likely spend most of their time next season in the Developmental League and overseas. The Blue team on the other hand, is made up of all the first and second year players that will likely see significant minutes in the NBA this season. This is an extremely smart move by the Magic who would like to see their young guys play together to develop a rhythm, instead of having them mixed with players who, honestly, likely will never sniff an NBA court. The Blue team won its first game against the Los Angeles Clippers, 75-74, in overtime. The Blue team is led by point guard Elfrid Payton, who was first team All-Rookie last season. Joining him on the wing are Magic first round pick Mario Hezonja and second year player Devyn Marble. Hezonja hit the deciding 3-point shot in overtime in the Blue team’s first summer league game. Up front, Aaron Gordon and Brandon Davies all have NBA experience. Off the bench, the Magic (Blue team) will likely use their 2nd round pick Tyler Harvey as an offensive spark plug.

Three Keys in the Game

1. Experience – The bulk of the minutes doled out to players on the Magic team will be to those players with NBA experience. While the Thunder don’t have the same amount of NBA experience, they do have a team that is quite familiar with itself as most of the Thunder’s roster is composed of players who were on the Thunder development team, the Blue.

semaj christon thunder II

2. Summer league superstar match-ups – While there aren’t necessarily any superstars in summer league, there are some interesting match-ups in this game. Aaron Gordon and Mitch McGary will likely match up a lot in this game. Both are athletic forwards that have a year’s worth of NBA experience under their belt. The other interesting match-up will be Elfrid Payton against Semaj Christon. The Thunder love Christon’s game and this will be a good barometer as to how ready he is to play in the NBA.

3. Mario Hezonja – Aside from the Thunder players, I’m most excited to see Super Mario. He was okay in his first game, but when the spotlight shined the brightest in the closing seconds of overtime, he hit the dagger three. This guy is far from a finished product, but his confidence and swagger make him a must-watch in summer league action.

 

Oklahoma City Thunder at Minnesota Timberwolves preview (Game 82 of 82)

westbrook thunder hamilton wiggins twolves

  • When: Wednesday, 15 April 2015 at 7:00 PM CST
  • Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, MN

And it comes down to this. Eighty one games could not decide the future for the Oklahoma City Thunder and the New Orleans Pelicans. It all comes down to the 82nd and final game of the regular season. Considering everything that has happened to the Thunder this season, it is quite fitting that fans of Oklahoma City will be on pins and needles until about 9:30 PM CST tonight. It’s a position that is unfamiliar for Thunder fans. Even in their inaugural playoff season, the 8th-seeded Thunder finished 7 games ahead of the 9th-seeded Houston Rockets. There was never any late season drama other than their annual battle with the Spurs for the top two positions in the West. This season, though, the Thunder not only need to win their final game, but also have to depend on another team to extend their season. It almost feels like the Thunder are playing two road games tonight: their game against the Timberwolves in Minnesota and the Pelicans, at home, against the Spurs. Just like in real life, its kind of scary having to depend on other people.

This is the fourth and final meeting of the season between these two Northwest division rivals. The Thunder won the first three meetings by an average of 13.7 points.

The Opponent

NBA: Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves

The Minnesota Timberwolves currently finding themselves with a 16-65 record, good for the worst record in the NBA. They are riding an 11-game losing streak heading into this game and claim the best chance of getting the No. 1 pick in the next draft if they lose tonight. The Tiimberwolves have stuck to the tanking script for the past month, sitting veterans with nagging injuries and playing their young players the majority of the minutes. The Wolves are definitely playing for the future, and feature two rookies that could have a significant impact in years to come. Reigning slam dunk champ Zach LaVine has been manning the point in the last 5 games, averaging an impressive 23.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 6.4 assists in that quintet of games. His back court mate, Kevin Martin, is shooting 38.7% from 3-point territory and averaging nearly 20 points a game. Kevin Martin is questionable for tonight’s game. If he misses, look for Chase Budinger to start in his place. On the wing, Rookie of the Year candidate Andrew Wiggins is a developing franchise player in the Paul George/Tracy McGrady mold. Up front, rookie power forward Adreian Payne is just now starting to get significant minutes and Justin Hamilton is one of those “guys you sign to be a 3rd center off the bench” type guys. With so many guys out for this finale, the bench will feature Robbie Hummel, Lorenzo Brown, and Arinze Onuaku. Yeah, I don’t know too much about them either.

Probable Starting Line-Ups

Minnesota Timberwolves

  • PG – Zach LaVine
  • SG – Kevin Martin
  • SF – Andrew Wiggins
  • PF – Adreian Payne
  • C – Justin Hamilton

Oklahoma City Thunder

  • PG – Russell Westbrook
  • SG – Dion Waiters
  • SF – Andre Roberson
  • PF – Enes Kanter
  • C – Steven Adams

Three Things

1. Front offices tank, not players – The Timberwolves’ front office has done a good job of positioning itself to continue in its rebuilding process. They’ll like get a top-3 draft pick in this next draft, and have given their young players ample time to develop this season. You know who doesn’t care about Minnesota’s position in the next draft? Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine. I, mean, they care, because they are invested in the continued success of their organization. But tonight, they aren’t thinking about Jahlil Okafor or Karl Anthony Towns. Tonight, Wiggins is only thinking about dropping 35 on Andre Roberson. Tonight, LaVine is only worried about getting a triple double against Westbrook.

If the Thunder treat this game like the Timberwolves are the worst team in the league, they may find this to be a competitive game heading in to the 4th quarter. The last thing you want if you are the Thunder is to give the Wolves hope heading into the closing quarter of the game. Minnesota has played their last two opponents (New Orleans and Golden State) close, and will likely treat this game like it is their Game 7. This would be their ultimate “feather in the cap” if they are able to beat the Thunder and ruin their playoff chances.

2. Play through the jitters – Westbrook and Nick Collison have been here before. They’ve been in pressure-packed games that mean something. Enes Kanter, Dion Waiters, Kyle Singler, and Andre Roberson, on the other hand, haven’t. The team with all the pressure on them will be Oklahoma City. How will those players react if their first couple shots don’t fall? How will they react if Westbrook’s first couple shots don’t fall? Let’s just hope that doesn’t come into play.

westbrook waiters kanter thunder

3. Win – The only thing Oklahoma City can control is what it does in Minnesota. They can’t control what the Spurs do. They can’t control how the Pelicans will play. All you can do is win and hope for the best.

Thunder Up!