Preseason Preview: Melbourne United @ Thunder

TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma

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

Thunder Game Notes

The Oklahoma City Thunder (1-1) are in action for the third time this preseason, squaring off against Melbourne United of Australia’s National Basketball League today in Oklahoma City. Tip-off is set for 2 PM CT and will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma.

The Thunder will be without Alex Abrines and Patrick Patterson yet again, but will enjoy Russell Westbrook’s second appearance since returning from a PRP injection in his left knee that cost him the preseason opener and most of training camp. How he looks alongside Paul George and Carmelo Anthony will again be the focus, and the three men figure to share more court time than they did on Friday night versus the New Orleans Pelicans.

Melbourne United enters 1-0 in NBL play this season, beating the Adelaide 36ers by a score of 99-97 last Thursday night. However, they will be without star shooting guard Chris Goulding — a two-time All-NBL First Team selection and former NBL scoring champion. He’s currently recovering after having his appendix removed late last week, and his absence will be felt against NBA talent.


Injury Report

Thunder

  • Alex Abrines: Out — Knee
  • Patrick Patterson: Out — Knee

Melbourne United

  • Peter Hooley: Out — Ankle
  • Chris Goulding: Out — Appendix

Starters:

Thunder

PG: Russell Westbrook

SG: Andre Roberson

SF: Paul George

PF: Carmelo Anthony

C: Steven Adams

Melbourne United

PG: Casper Ware

SG: Casey Prather

SF: David Barlow

PF: Josh Boone

C: David Andersen


Notes:

These international teams are often seen as chum in the water, but the Thunder is familiar with defeat in a similar situation. OKC lost to Real Madrid by a score of 142-137 in last season’s preseason opener.

Melbourne United’s starting shooting guard, Casey Prather, spent five years playing under Billy Donovan at the University of Florida. He was named to First Team All-SEC in 2014, and All-NBL First Team last season after averaging 19.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists. More on the Prather/Donovan connection here.

Russell Westbrook made his preseason debut on Friday night, scoring 9 points and dishing out 4 assists in just 10 minutes. He’s not expected to log heavy minutes against Melbourne United, but is expected to see action into the third quarter, according to Nick Gallo.

Carmelo Anthony has yet to see any preseason run past halftime, but that’s expected to change today according to Gallo.

The battle for third-string point guard will continue today for the Thunder. Isaiah Canaan received 28 minutes in the preseason opener, and Semaj Christon logged 21 minutes on Friday night against the Pelicans. With just two preseason games before the start of the regular season, it’s worth watching who emerges today.

Terrance Ferguson will again look to capitalize on the absence of Alex Abrines. The 19-year-old rookie has outperformed expectations so far this preseason, and will be in familiar territory facing an Australian professional team. Ferguson played for the Adelaide 36ers of the NBL last season, and notched his season-high in scoring with 13 points against Melbourne United on October 14, 2016.

When asked what he’s expecting out of Melbourne United, Russell Westbrook made it clear he’s….well… He’s  not expecting much. Via Royce Young: