Thunder (55-21, 23-14 road) vs. Kings (27-50, 16-22 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 110.4 (7th), Kings – 105.8 (18th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 103.6 (5th), Kings – 108.6 (22nd)
Pace: Thunder – 95.6 (9th), Kings – 94.3 (14th)
It’s pretty obvious what’s going on with the Thunder right now. They’re two games ahead of the Clippers in the loss column, with a game to play against them on Wednesday. Lose tonight, and now the Clippers are just a lone game behind with a game in LA ahead, and the tiebreaker up for grabs. So while this game isn’t against a marquee opponent, it does carry the same kind of weight.
The Kings aren’t very good, but they certainly can be dangerous. Particularly since the Thunder will play again tonight without Russell Westbrook, which automatically makes things more difficult. This is a game that needs a positive result, but also a decent performance. You don’t want some 48-minute slopfest leading into one of your bigger regular season games of the year.
So in a way, this game is one of the biggest of the season for the Thunder. They need a win, and they need to play better. But if we’re prioritizing, win first. Play well second.
Three Big Things
1. Boogie. DeMarcus Cousins is a massive problem for everyone, including sometimes his own team. But when he gets rolling, he’s a handful. It’s why the Thunder have made a wise choice to play Kendrick Perkins tonight, who can not only match Cousins strength-for-strength, but can also get under his skin and bother him.
2. Balance. The Thunder’s offense got out of sorts, while still playing well, against the Suns. Obviously without Westbrook tonight there will be a natural balance installed, but the Thunder need to space, move the ball and execute.
3. KD. Will he score 25? At this point, who cares. He got to 41. Let it end for all I care. Might be better to have it over with, too.
Tip at 9:00 CT. Go Stay Second.