Preseason Finale Preview: Thunder @ Nuggets

TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma

Radio: WWLS (98.1 FM OKC, 97.1 FM Tulsa)

Thunder Game Notes

The Oklahoma City Thunder (2-1) wraps up preseason play tonight in Denver, taking on the Nuggets (3-1) at 8 PM CT on Fox Sports Oklahoma. It will be the last tune-up game before facing the New York Knicks in the season opener just 10 days from now.

The Nuggets finished 40-42 a season ago, good for ninth place in the Western Conference. They added four-time All-Star Paul Millsap in the offseason, creating a formidable front court alongside 22-year-old phenom, Nikola Jokic. Denver is also deadly from long range, boasting young sharpshooters Jamaal Murray and Gary Harris. The Nuggets figure to be much improved from a season ago, and are a trendy pick to break into the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-13 season.

The Thunder will look to utilize its one remaining exhibition game to build on a work-in-progress chemistry project that has been hit or miss so far this preseason. It’s been expected that adding Paul George and Carmelo Anthony would take time to blossom, and that’s certainly been the case. Oklahoma City has also been hampered by injuries in the early going, as Russell Westbrook, Alex Abrines and Patrick Patterson have all missed at least one game. The good news for OKC is that Abrines will finally return tonight — but Raymond Felton is now inactive due to a sprained wrist. Patrick Patterson will again be sidelined while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, and as such will have missed the entire preseason.


Injury Report

Thunder

  • Alex Abrines: Active
  • Raymond Felton: Out — Wrist
  • Patrick Patterson: Out — Knee

Nuggets

  • N/A

Starters

Thunder

PG: Russell Westbrook

SG: Andre Roberson

SF: Paul George

PF: Carmelo Anthony

C: Steven Adams

Nuggets

PG: Jamaal Murray

SG: Gary Harris

SF: Wilson Chandler

PF: Paul Millsap

C: Nikola Jokic


Notes

  • Alex Abrines will receive about 10 minutes tonight, so expect to see plenty of rookie Terrance Ferguson. The 19-year-old logged 35 minutes on Sunday against Melbourne United, and looks like a guy that’s ready to crack the Thunder’s regular season rotation.
  • The main rotation players are expected to see extended minutes tonight, but it isn’t certain if they will all close out the game. Paul George closed the fourth quarter on Sunday, and finished with a game-high 37 minutes.
  • Denver is shooting 42.4 percent from downtown in the preseason, and has made more attempts than any other team. OKC was lit up from deep by the Houston Rockets in the preseason opener, so perimeter defense is something to watch tonight.
  • The Nuggets are averaging 112.3 points per game so far in the preseason, but giving up 109.5 PPG to opponents. Oklahoma City is scoring 95 PPG, but surrendering just 93.3.
  • The Thunder defense will be tested by the front court of Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic. Expect to see Paul George on Millsap, and Carmelo Anthony on Wilson Chandler.
  • With no Raymond Felton, it will be interesting to see who the first point guard off the bench is. Semaj Christon and Isaiah Canaan have taken turns logging heavy minutes in the battle for third string PG, but it was Christon who saw action in the immediate aftermath of Felton’s wrist injury.
  • All eyes will be on the cohesion between Westbrook, George, and Anthony. There has been a bit too much isolation play through the first three games, but each has been insistent that it’s nothing to worry about. After shooting a combined 32 percent (14/43) on Sunday, it shouldn’t take much to look improved.