Thunder (15-4, 5-4 road) vs. Hawks (11-10, 7-3 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 107.5 (7th), Hawks – 104.6 (15th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 101.7 (5th), Hawks – 104.3 (13th)
Pace: Thunder – 96.4 (5th), Hawks – 95.2 (10th)
The third best record in the West against the third best in the East. And yet something feels… different about these two teams. But here’s the thing: The Hawks aren’t bad at all. They’ve played some solid basketball, particularly recently, and can present teams with matchup issues. With Paul Millsap and Al Horford inside, they can be dominant in the paint, and Jeff Teague is quietly becoming this season’s Mike Conley.
And even though there are decent excuses for a couple of them, fact is, the Thunder’s road form hasn’t been all that great. Last season OKC went 26-15 away from home, the second best road record in the league. So far this season, they’re 5-4 through nine. A trend, or like I said, coincidental based on some factors (back-to-backs, buzzer-beaters, missing Russell Westbrook, bogus ejections, etc.).
The Thunder played their most complete game of the season against Indiana on Sunday. How do they follow that up tonight?
Three Big Things
1. KD. In December, he’s averaging 31.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists on 55.2/47.4/91.4 shooting splits. And who do the Hawks have in line to guard him? DeMarre Carroll and Cartier Martin.
2. Starting something. Did OKC’s starters figure something out with the way they played against the Pacers, or was it just a favorable matchup? The starting five has been really rough this season, but with Durant and Westbrook playing so well against the Pacers, it washed any worries away on Sunday. How do they follow that up?
3. Lining up. First, Thabo Sefolosha is out because of a strained knee, so Andre Roberson, fresh off torching the D-League, starts in his place to pretend he’s Thabo. I like the move from Brooks to use Roberson as Thabo-lite because it keeps most everything else in place. Jeremy Lamb doesn’t have to adjust to a new role, but instead everything just stays the same. I doubt Roberson plays more than 15 minutes, so Lamb and Jackson will be relied on heavily, but this is a big opportunity for the rookie from Colorado to build off those positive games with the 66ers.
Tip at 6:30 CT. Go…