Preview 11 of 82: Thunder @ Nuggets

Time: 9:30 PM CT

TV: TNT / Fox Sports Oklahoma

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

Game Notes: Thunder / Nuggets

So far this Thunder season has been a tale of two teams. One version features a calculated offense and lock-down defense — as seen on opening night versus the Knicks, the emphatic win versus the Bucks, the first half versus the Celtics, and the first quarter versus the Kings.

The alternate version features emotional, careless basketball — like the second half versus the Celtics, the fourth quarter versus the Blazers, and the final three quarters versus the Kings.

The Thunder has shown glimpses of the high-caliber team I expected them to be, but inconsistency on both ends of the court has held it back. Still, I stand by what I said after the Thunder’s first loss to the Timberwolves: If Russell Westbrook isn’t worried, I’m not worried. After the ugly loss to the Kings on Tuesday night, he said, “I love nights like this.”

File that under “Not Worried.”

The Thunder is a 1.5 point favorite heading into tonight’s game against the Denver Nuggets (6-5). The Nuggets are led by their commanding center, Nikola Jokić, and newcomer Paul Millsap who signed as a free agent over the summer.


Injury Report

Thunder

  • N/A

Nuggets

  • Juancho Hernagomez: Out — Mono

Starting Five


Statistics

Traditional

TeamPFPAREBASTSTLBLKFG%3P%
DEN106.5106.145.123.98.44.445.936.7
OKC102.596.842.121.610.65.644.434.1

Four Factors

TeamEFG%FTA RateTOV%OREB%OPP EFG%OPP FTAOPP TOV%OPP OREB%
DEN51.80.25715.324.552.80.23816.622.5
OKC50.70.22315.123.748.90.28919.123.6

Notes

  • The Nuggets offense has been off to a hot start with Nikola Jokić scoring a career-high 40 points versus the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday and Gary Harris shooting 45.3 percent from three. The Thunder’s defense has been the one bright spot in an otherwise lackluster start, and should be able to contain both.
  • Jokic comes in averaging 17. 9 points, 11.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists. Steven Adams will have his hands full on the defensive end, particularly with Jokic’s ability to stretch the floor. He’s shooting nearly 44 percent from downtown on almost four attempts per game.
  • A huge challenge for the Thunder tonight will be taking care of the basketball. In Tuesday’s loss, the Thunder had a whopping 17 turnovers and only 8 points off the 23 turnovers they forced. I think that’s all I need to say on that.
  • The last time the Nuggets and Thunder met in the regular season, Russell Westbrook drained the game-winning three that eliminated Denver from playoff contention.
  • Carmelo Anthony returns to Denver for his first regular season appearance with the Thunder. He was drafted 3rd overall by the Nuggets in the 2003 NBA Draft, and played there for seven and a half seasons.
  • I love “Revenge Russ” as much as the next Thunder fan, but there’s a difference between playing with determination and playing with frustration. He will need to keep his emotions in check if the Thunder wants to win this game.
  • The Thunder has lost all five games where they were within five points in the final 5 minutes. But if you’re entering panic mode, the  2014-15 Cavs started out 19-20, and the 2010-11 Heat started 8-9. Take a deep breath. We’re just 12 percent of the way through the regular season.

Russell Westbrook and Nikola Jokic had this run-in during preseason play. Shouldn’t be an issue, but Russ has been particularly volatile lately. Something to watch.

 

Given the way the Thunder has looked lately, Raymond Felton couldn’t be more correct.

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