Thunder vs. Nets: Pregame Primer

 vs. 

Thunder (37-29, 12-20 road) vs. Nets (12-53, 8-24 home)

TV: FSOK
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
Time: 6:30 PM CST

Team Comparisons (per NBA.com/Stats)

  • Offensive Rating: Thunder – 104.6 (19th), Nets – 101.7 (28th)
    Defensive Rating: Thunder – 105.5 (11th), Nets – 109.3 (28th)

One of the major differences between this year’s rendition of the Oklahoma City Thunder and last year’s is the lack of automatic W’s on the schedule. I know, I know. Nothing is guaranteed in sports. That’s the reason the players play the game. Have a bad shooting night or play lackadaisically with the ball, and any team can win a game. Everyone in the NBA is a professional basketball player, whether they play for Golden State or Brooklyn.

But the reality is that great teams usually beat bottom of the barrel teams. There’s a reason great teams are great; they usually have more talent than their opponents. And so, the opposite can usually be said about the bottom of the barrel teams. The thing about Oklahoma City this season has been the fact they are middle of the road. If you combine their offensive and defensive ratings, you get 30, which is exactly half of the possible 60 slots in possible ratings for NBA teams. Because of that, you never know which Thunder team you’re going to get on any given night. The Thunder just went through a stretch where they lost four straight games to sub .500 teams and then followed that up by winning two games against two of the top four teams in the West.

The Thunder have become the ultimate grab-bag. Put your hand in and you might pull out an easy, 12-point victory. Or you may pull out a battle filled 2-point victory. Or you may pull out a disappointing 5-point defeat. You just never know with this team……especially if they are on the road.

Season Series Summary

This is the second and final meeting of the season between the Thunder and Nets. The Thunder won the first meeting in November, 124-105, behind a Russell Westbrook triple-double.

Injuries

Taj Gibson – hip (cleared to play)

Three Big Things

1. Perimeter Defense

Brooklyn can’t do a lot of things well, but the 3-point shot is their equalizer. They are 5th in the league in 3-point FGs made, and the 3-point shot accounts for 31.4% of their total points (which is the 5th highest percentage in the league). The Nets have decent shooters from all positions. Center Brook Lopez is shooting 35% from deep on 5.1 attempts per game. Quincy Acy (Quincy Acy!!!) is making 56.5% of his threes on 2.4 attempts in the 19 games he has played for Brooklyn. Sean Kilpatrick and Jeremy Lin are both competent 3-point shooters. And rookie Caris LeVert is starting to find his shooting legs after a slow start to his inaugural season. If the Thunder are able to stay on the shooters, the Nets will have a difficult time generating what is their main source of offense.

2. Second chance points

The Nets give up the most 2nd chance points in the league at 14.6 2nd chance points per game. If Enes Kanter, Steven Adams, and Russell Westbrook are able to do what they normally do on the offensive glass, the Thunder may be able to take advantage of the Nets’ propensity to give up 2nd chance points.

3. Routine

Because of winter storm Stella, the Thunder players’ routines may be a bit off. Players are the most habitual creatures on the planet. And so a break in that routine, for whatever reason, may play a part in how the players come out tonight. I expect the Thunder to start off slow and then ease into a rhythm as the game progresses.