OKC Thunder (41-15, 17-10 road) at Milwaukee Bucks (28-28, 15-12 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 109.7 (2nd), Bucks– 106.0 (9th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 103.0 (10th), Bucks – 105.1 (17th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.9 (6th), Bucks – 93.3 (4th)
View from the enemy: Bucksketball
Quick turnaround for the Thunder as they head to Milwaukee to face a desperate Bucks team trying to find a way into the postseason. These are precisely the type of games that are most dangerous because unless there’s razor sharp focus from the tip, Oklahoma City could be in trouble.
Milwaukee coming in: The Bucks last played Saturday blowing out the Blazers.
1. Ilyasanity. The most dangerous player on the floor for Milwaukee is Ersan Ilyasova. He rebounds, he shoots, he scores, he plays with crazy energy. He’s a versatile stretch 4 that gives a lot of teams fits. I would expect a lot of smallball from both sides with Ilyasova at the 4 or even Luc Richard Mbah a Moute there.
2. Monta, again. This is the fourth time the Thunder have had to deal with Monta Ellis. Considering he’s a player that can give OKC’s defense fits, that’s got to be something Scott Brooks isn’t psyched about. With Ellis off the ball though, the Bucks do have quite the scoring backcourt with Brandon Jennings and him. I would expect Westbrook to try and physically manhandle the smaller Jennings, but it’ll be a defensive challenge for OKC’s guards in this one.
3. Sustained success. The Thunder have 10 games remaining. With the top seed and homecourt up for grabs, you’d love to see a little run of wins here. The Raptor game Sunday is a nice start but to string together wins, you’ve got to take care of back-to-backs and win on the road. It’s a challenge but the Thunder need to get going if they’re going to claim that top spot.
Tip at 7:00. Go Thunderhunters.