Time: 7:00 PM CT
Radio: WWLS (98.1 FM OKC / 97.1 FM Tulsa)
With a loss to the Heat on Monday, the Suns became the first team this season to be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. Will that stop Devin Booker from trying to drop 40 points on the Thunder tonight? Probably not.
Given the state of the Phoenix defense (it’s not good), the Thunder should use tonight to inspire some confidence in the offense and build momentum heading into Saturday night’s match-up with the Spurs. OKC should also use this opportunity to fix the holes in its own defense. On Tuesday night against Houston, the Thunder looked lethargic on the defensive end and a similar performance could easily lead to an electric night for the Suns.
The Thunder’s challenge tonight will be holding Booker to fewer than 25 points. He’s averaged 32.5 points on 46 percent shooting and 55 percent from three in the previous two meetings. He has scored 30+ points in five of his past six games (including 39 points against OKC). If the Thunder can control Booker, Russell Westbrook and company can control the entire Suns’ offense and the game.
Tip-off is at 7:00 PM CT on Fox Sports Oklahoma. The Thunder is currently a 10-point favorite according to Odds Shark.
Update: Corey Brewer will start at shooting guard.
- Andre Roberson: Out – Knee
- Brandon Knight: Out – Knee
- Alan Williams: Out – Knee
Suns: Elfrid Payton, Devin Booker, TJ Warren, Dragan Bender, Tyson Chandler
|Team||EFG%||FTA Rate||TOV%||OREB%||OPP EFG%||OPP FTA||OPP TOV%||OPP OREB%|
Click to Enlarge
Thunder O & D
Suns O & D
Jan. 7: PHX 114, OKC 100 [BOX SCORE]
March 2: OKC 124, PHX 116 [BOX SCORE]
PG and the Three. Before the All-Star Break, Paul George was shooting an impressive 43 percent from three. Since the break? Just 22.6 percent. George is running out of time to get his rhythm back but tonight’s game against the Suns’ abysmal defense (last in the NBA in defensive rating) seems like a good night to go off. George hit his 200th three of the season on Tuesday night, making him just the third player to hit 200 threes this season (Curry and Harden). Take that, Devin Booker.
Carmelo Cruising. Carmelo Anthony showed off his shooting touch on Tuesday night against the Rockets. He finished with 23 points on 44 percent shooting from the field and 40 percent from three. He also passed Jerry West for 20th on the NBA All-Time scoring list and needs 70 more to pass Reggie Miller for 19th all-time. Some more of that effective offense is welcomed out of Melo tonight versus the Suns.
A Tale of Two Turnovers. For the first time since moving to Oklahoma City, the Thunder leads the league in steals per game (8.98) and opponent turnovers per game (16.1). This reflects the strength of the OKC defense, but the team has to take care of the basketball on both ends in order to beat Phoenix. In Tuesday night’s game, OKC had 19 turnovers with nine coming from Westbrook alone. In the last meeting with the Suns, OKC had 11 turnovers.
Bottoms Up. If you’re only using the eyeball test, you may be surprised to know the Thunder has won its last six games against sub-.500 opponents (including a previous win over the Suns). These wins have not been pretty and almost never commanding, but with the Western Conference as close as it is – a win is a win. Thunder Twitter seems to be down on OKC lately, but look back at the OKC’s last nine games and the four losses have all come to top teams (Cavs, Warriors, Blazers, and Rockets). The Thunder has work to do in order to beat those teams in April but, for now, the Thunder is beating all the teams its supposed to beat — which was all we wanted back in November, remember?