OKC Thunder (32-8, 13-5 road) at Denver Nuggets (24-18, 15-3 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 113.0 (1st), Nuggets– 108.3 (8th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 103.0 (6th), Nuggets – 105.9 (15th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.6 (8th), Nuggets – 94.1 (5th)
View from the enemy: Roundball Mining Company
A couple things working against the Thunder tonight: 1) The Nuggets are very good at home and 2) the Nuggets are probably still a little unhappy about the whipping OKC put on them a few days ago. In looking over this six-game road trip, this one in Denver kind of looked like a potential swing game to me. A 2-0 start could really put 5-1 or for sure 4-2 in play. A loss makes a successful trip much more challenging.
These two teams just played four days ago and the Thunder basically bumrushed a tired Nuggets team coming off a game the night before. OKC worked Denver in pretty much every way that night, but didn’t seem to get much credit for it because of the Nuggets’ situation. Tonight, the teams are on a little more even playing field, except again, the Nuggets are at home where again, they are very good.
Also, sidenote: Thoughts and prayers to Scott Brooks and his family as his mother Lee passed away. He’ll coach tonight against Denver.
Denver coming in: The Nuggets have lost two straight, including Friday at home to the Wizards.
Three Big Things
1. Good start necessary. Good energy and a productive first quarter could go a long way in this game. You could say that about pretty much every game, but in this case playing on the road against a good divisional rival, taking the crowd out of it a bit would be good.
2. Some balance. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are amazing and can carry the Thunder most any night. And they’ve been doing that lately. But a little more offensive balance with Kevin Martin, Serge Ibaka or the bench stepping up would help relieve some of that stress on Durant and Westbrook.
3. Transition. The Thunder eliminated the drive-and-kick quick transition stuff in the first meeting, not letting the Nuggets explode for short bursts. There weren’t any easy buckets, any big men leaking out after mad baskets. Forcing the Nuggets to execute in the halfcourt favors the Thunder a lot.
Tip at 7:00 CT. Go Rocky Mountain Thunder.