Hawks (23-20, 8-13 road) vs. Thunder (35-10, 19-3 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 109.5 (5th), Hawks – 105.2 (12th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 101.6 (3rd), Hawks – 106.2 (15th)
Pace: Thunder – 95.7 (6th), Hawks – 94.9 (12th)
It’s the Eastern Conference Player of the Week (Paul Millsap) versus the Western Conference Player of the Week (Kevin Durant). WHO’S EXCITED HUH? OK, maybe that’s not exactly the draw, but there there is plenty of the “What’s KD gonna do?” buzz still flowing. You show up to the arena, and you really don’t know.
The Thunder are in a little bit of a spot though, with a solid Eastern Conference team in town as OKC rides a seven-game win streak and a trip to Miami waiting for them on Wednesday. Not that the Thunder would necessarily completely overlook the Hawks, because there isn’t that luxury without Westbrook, but maybe there is a little anxiousness to get through this 48 minutes.
The Hawks aren’t great, especially since their injury to Al Horford, but they are capable. They have recent wins over the Heat, the Pacers and the Rockets to their name, so they can get you if you’re not paying attention.
Three Big Things
1. Jeff Teague. (UPDATE: Teague is out with an ankle injury. So just pretend I never said this.) He seems to always play well against the Thunder. He’s a pretty good player that plays well against a lot of teams, but against OKC, it seems like he’s always putting up a solid scoring night. Slow him down, beat the Hawks.
2. Paul Millsap. He’s crafty with his pump fakes, he’s excellent on the offensive glass, and his game extends out to the 3-point line. A tough matchup for Serge Ibaka to deal with, but with the Hawks missing Horford, it opens the door for plenty of smallball for OKC, with Durant getting time on Millsap, I’d expect.
3. No Royal. How do the Thunder cope playing their first game without their most important player?
Tip at 7:00 CT. Go Reap.