Game 66 Pregame Primer: Thunder (41-24) vs. Nuggets (43-23)natashapanchal.com / Marc Streeter

Game 66 Pregame Primer: Thunder (41-24) vs. Nuggets (43-23)

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ESPN preview

Tip-off:

3:00 PM @ The Arena, ? NBATV

Projected starting lineups:

Oklahoma CityDenver
PG: Chris PaulPG: Monte Morris
SG: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander SG: Torrey Craig
SF: Lu DortSF: Michael Porter, Jr.
PF: Danilo Gallinari PF: Paul Millsap
C: Steven AdamsC: Nikola Jokic

3 Big Things:

  • Playoff Seeding and Tie-breakers: The teams in the 3rd through 6th positions in the Western Conference are all separated by 1.5 games. With a victory over Denver on Monday, the Thunder will hold the tie-breaker against each of those other three teams (Denver, Houston, and Utah). Although those virtual, Microsoft Teams fans are pretty cool, the reality is that home-court advantage will likely not be a thing in this year’s playoffs. But, strategic playoff seeding could. And that’s where those tie-breakers could come into play.
  • The Rumble in the Bubble: You could tell that Nikola Jokic’s effectiveness was muted by the loss of Jamal Murray, Will Barton, and Gary Harris from the starting line-up in Denver’s first game. While the status of those three players is still up in the air for Monday’s game, Jokic and Steven Adams will still likely be one of the more pivotal match-ups in the game. Jokic usually matches up well with Adams because of his size and mobility, but with Joker’s recent weight loss, could that tip the scales (pun intended) towards Adams?
  • Tall-Ball Line-up: Denver coach Mike Malone has been tinkering with some crazy line-ups since arriving in Orlando. You can pretty much bet that for a couple of minutes on Monday, we will see a line-up that features Bol Bol (7’2″), Jokic (7’0″), Mason Plumlee (6’11”), and Michael Porter Jr. (6’10”). While I doubt this line-up will have an enormous impact on the game, I am very curious to see how the Thunder combat it. Maybe Adams, Nerlens Noels, Danilo Gallinari, and Mike Muscala? (:Throw-up emoji:) Or what if Billy Donovan combated crazy with crazy and trotted out a small-ball line-up of Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Dennis Schröder, Lu Dort, and Andre Roberson? The possibilities are endless!

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