OKC Thunder (6-3, 2-1 road) at New Orleans Hornets (3-3, 2-2 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 105.8 (7th), Hornets– 100.0 (22nd)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 100.2 (8th), Hornets – 101.1 (12th)
Pace: Thunder – 93.5 (7th), Hornets – 89.5 (29th)
View from the enemy: Hornets 24/7
The only thing that could make that Grizzlies loss feel worse is if the Thunder follow it up with another in New Orleans. Because as you know, it’s easy to have a short memory in the NBA. Bounce back and those frustrating losses seem to feel pretty far away.
But the Hornets aren’t some pushover. They may struggle to win 30 games, but this team plays extremely hard and there is some very intriguing young talent. Quite honestly, the Hornets remind me a bit of the Thunder from four years ago. Young, hungry and trying to prove something. They might not really know how to finish games and haven’t figured out how to win, but they’re going to work. They’re going to be in it late in the fourth and unless the Thunder execute and close, things could get even further complicated.
New Orleans coming in: The Hornets lost to the Rockets in Houston on Wednesday.
Three Big Things
1. Younger energy. The Thunder have young legs and youthful energy. The Hornets have more of it. OKC will play their 10th game already and there could be some fatigue issues there and against a young, excitable team like the Hornets, they better have some energy.
2. Start well. The Thunder’s offense has been a touch inconsistent and the Hornets are going to make you work for baskets. The Thunder’s starting five has been an issue, especially offensively, and the Hornets present another one of those difficult matchups. Scott Brooks has talked about adjusting his rotation to take KD out earlier to let Westbrook loose a little more and Martin to have more help on the second unit.
3. Bench play. The lack of Kevin Martin against Memphis was distressing and I’d expect OKC to get him involved early and often. Four shots wasn’t good enough and the Thunder need a lot more production from the bench than they got Wednesday. Maynor, Collison, Martin and whoever else plays have to chip in.
Tip at 7:00 CT. Go Win This Game Please.