Thunder (27-8, 12-5 road) vs. Nuggets (17-17-, 9-8 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 109.1 (5th), Nuggets – 106.3 (11th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 101.3 (4th), Nuggets – 105.9 (17th)
Pace: Thunder – 96.5 (5th), Nuggets – 96.1 (6th)
It’s not that the Thunder need to win this game. It’s just that they kind of sort of would be better off if they won this game. Especially considering the debacle in Salt Lake City, the Thunder would be well served to go ahead and put one in the win column.
They’re 4-3 in this stretch without Russell Westbrook and in some ways, that doesn’t represent the fact they’re two fourth quarter collapses from being 6-1. Still, they’re far from whole and the struggle without Westbrook is real, so the Thunder won’t have an easy take ahead tonight in Denver.
Denver coming in: Crushed the Celtics on Tuesday
Three Big Things
1. Serge back. After missing Tuesday’s game with flu-like symptoms, Ibaka is set to return to the lineup and it’s definitely a needed boost for OKC. The Nuggets are a strong paint scoring team and Ibaka has had some of his biggest games against them. His scoring is a big plus, but the Thunder clearly missed him defending the rim against the Jazz.
2. Transition D. The Thunder have to get back. Have to. And within that, they’ve got to rebound. Rebound, take care of the ball, limit transition opportunities. Pretty much the same things that are important every game.
3. Help KD. Reggie Jackson has done a quality job the last few games, but the Thunder need a few people to make open 3s, they need some added scoring whether it’s from Lamb, Ibaka or whoever, and they need to be able to play to their identity, which is letting Durant score within the flow of the offense.
Tip at 9:30 CT. Go KD.