Thunder (37-10, 17-7 road) vs. Nets (20-23, 12-10 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 110.0 (4th), Nets – 105.4 (18th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 102.0 (4th), Nets – 108.1 (22nd)
Pace: Thunder – 95.5 (7th), Nets – 91.3 (27th)
You might not remember it, because pretty much everyone in the state was watching a football game that night, but on Jan. 2, the Thunder blew a double-digit fourth quarter lead to the Nets in what might’ve been the worst loss of the season. Because at the time, the Nets were in a miserable tailspin, and the Thunder, even without Russell Westbrook, a heavy favorite.
The Thunder nodded off, and the Nets cooked them at the buzzer on a Joe Johnson fadeaway.
Now, the Nets are playing much better, going 10-2 so far in January with impressive wins over the Heat, Warriors, Mavericks and Thunder. They’re doing it mostly behind Johnson, who has elevated his game significantly.
Plus, for the Thunder, they’re going to have to battle a little refocus. They’re still likely riding high off the win over the Heat and even if they want to publicly say no big, it was very big. They soaked that one in, and they loved every bit of it. So they’ve got to let it go and get ready to play again.
Three Big Things
1. KD. He’s failed to score 30 only twice this month. Once against the Celtics in a blowout, and the other in the loss to the Nets. He went 6-13 for 24 in that game. I’m thinking that doesn’t happen again.
2. Iso Joe. The Nets are playing better mostly because Johnson has gone to a higher level offensively. He’s knocking down every 3 he looks at and has provided them a consistent scoring option late in games. Thabo will surely start on him, but he could be Durant’s assignment by the end of the night.
3. Who will it be? The Thunder aren’t going to hit another 16 3s, but who among the bench and supporting case which KD says doesn’t exist will step up? Jeremy Lamb again? Maybe Reggie Jackson this time? Serge Ibaka in a post-All-Star snub game? Someone needs to.
Tip at 6:00 CT. Go 10.