Nuggets (32-38, 13-22 road) vs. Thunder (51-18, 28-7 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 110.0 (7th), Nuggets – 106.0 (17th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 103.3 (5th), Nuggets – 108.0 (21st)
Pace: Thunder – 95.6 (9th), Nuggets – 97.7 (3rd)
Home again. Finally. After a nice little road trip, the Thunder are back in Oklahoma City to play a mediocre-ish team in the Nuggets. It’s precisely the kind of game that can be dangerous, because 1) the Nuggets are decent and 2) returning home after a road trip there can often be some letdown. Especially considering how the last game went in Toronto. Emotional, intense and terrifying.
I waited to post this until now because things change depending on Russell Westbrook’s availability. Scott Brooks confirmed before tipoff that Westbrook would sit tonight and play against the Mavericks on Tuesday. So things obviously change some in OKC’s approach. The last time the Thunder played the Nuggets, it was without Westbrook in the Dark Days. Things got better, but that night the Nuggets ran OKC to death and the Thunder never could keep up. Without Westbrook, things get tougher.
Three Big Things
1. Lawson. Without Westbrook, the Nuggets have a matchup advantage. And it’s something they could potentially expose. Reggie Jackson is not great at stopping the ball, so Lawson will probably attack him off the dribble early and often.
2. Faried. Rebound, you guys.
3. Transition. The Thunder have struggled at different times getting back and matching up on breaks. The Nuggets love to run — off makes, misses, turnovers, whatever. So the Thunder have to take care of the ball, and get back at all times. The Nuggets want to run to the rim and use that to collapse the defense to kick to a shooter.
Tip at 7:00 CT. Go No Injuries.