|2014-15 NBA Season Game 4|
|November 3rd, 2014|
|The Barclay Center, Brooklyn, New York City, New York|
|6:30 PM Central Standard Time|
|TV: Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, The Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network|
|Injury Report: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Mitch McGary, Jeremy Lamb, Anthony Morrow, Grant Jerrett (Out), Reggie Jackson (Questionable)|
|Previous Matchups: Jan 2 (L 95-93), Jan 30 (W 120-95)|
|Sebastian Telfair or Reggie Jackson||PG||Deron Williams|
|Andre Roberson||SG||Joe Johnson|
|Perry Jones III||SF||Bojan Bogdanovic|
|Serge Ibaka||PF||Kevin Garnett|
|Steven Adams||C||Brook Lopez|
The Thunder have just suffered through a three game grind of having 9 active players or less. They also just endured (and somehow won) a game against the Denver Nuggets with literally two listed guards. It was a slow, pounding affair, the type of game that you wouldn't want to take your grandma to. Neither team could get much of anything going from outside, and there were tons of fouls to go around.
The Nets, on the other hand, are getting a full roster for the first time in what seems like forever. This team has always had to endure some form of injury concern or another since moving to Brooklyn. Furthermore, the Nets have been playing in some fast, offensive games.
The good news here is that Brooklyn lacks shooters. Only Joe Johnson and Mirza Teletovic have really proven themselves as constant threats there over the first two games, so it's easy to see the Thunder staying in this one. The reason I say that is: OKC's lineup, as it's currently constructed, can't cover shooters. They're too slow to get back on D sometimes, and have big guys playing out of position. If you need any proof of that, I'd suggest taking a look at the Nuggets' fourth quarter run last night.
Anyway, what impact will Reggie Jackson have on the game? Well, he gives Oklahoma City a legitimate threat at point. Sebastian Telfair can run an offense with varying degrees of success, but he's got absolutely no physical skills to beat his man with. Jackson, on the other hand, can score on almost any point in the NBA, and adds an entirely different dynamic to the offense.
Brook Lopez, on the other hand, should play pretty similarly to Garnett and Plumlee. I'm not denying that Lopez could have a seriously positive effect on his team, as he's much more consistent with his jumper and powerful inside. In fact, he should help the Nets quite a bit long-term by eating up minutes in their rotation. Brooklyn really struggled with small lineups against the Pistons and Celtics when Teletovic wasn't raining threes, so they can go big the entire time tonight if they so choose.
Still, tonight, I'm betting that the Nets will work on a small ball lineup at some point. And there will be a few points in the game where the Thunder totally lose the plot and give up a 10-0 run. The important thing for OKC will be controlling the pace of the game for as long as possible, and making sure to value every offensive possession. A high turnover rate and errant outside shots will kill the Thunder quick, so they need to be sure to get to their shots.
Who's to watch on the Nets tonight? Well, I'm betting that the battle between Joe Johnson and Andre Roberson is going to be very interesting. Johnson is wily and really adept at shooting mid-range isos, but Roberson is of the ideal speed and height to stop him. I'll also be keeping a close eye on Lopez vs. Adams, which is a battle of two of the league's best young bigs. Adams has lacked confidence offensively as of late, especially late in games, so it will be interesting to see if he rises to the challenge.
Prediction: Brooklyn Nets 102, Oklahoma City Thunder 95.
What do you think of tonight's game? Drop a comment and let us know!