The Thunder, after a days rest at home, will get a chance to clash with the Brooklyn Nets. OKC is coming off a gigantic win against the rival Rockets. The most remarkable thing about it was that Westbrook sealed the whole thing with a dunk. A game-sealing DUNK! Way cool. The comeback was cool too. Anyway....
The Nets, owned by a Russian oligarch willing to spend (Mikhail Prohorov), always seem to try and win every year. Regardless of how good or bad their roster is. The Nets haven’t really been able to attract much talent to Brooklyn, and many analysts had the Nets finishing the year at the bottom of the league.
But on the back of semi-good health from Brook Lopez, the Nets have escaped the cellar. A 4-7 record won’t blow anyone away, but it’s far more than anyone was expecting. Given that the Nets are 0-2 without Brook Lopez, a 4-5 record with him really isn’t that bad. Much of the credit goes to first year coach Kenny Atkinson. Much as the Hawks run things, Atkinson will employ an uptempo style and deep roster. The Nets have the NBA’s second fastest pace, and have the NBA’s third most three pointers attempted per game.
Aside from Lopez, the two names to watch out for are Bogdanovic and Kilpatrick. Bojan Bogdanovic is really good on wing post-ups and around screens, though his three point percentage lacks. In Bogdanovic’s third year, he looks to emerge as a go-to guy. I wouldn’t blame you for not knowing who Sean Kilpatrick is heading into the season. Kilpatrick was undrafted in 2014, and didn’t really explode onto the NBA scene until late last season. And by then, nobody was watching Brooklyn’s games. But Kilpatrick serves as the defacto point guard while Lin is out. Pressuring the ball is always a good idea against these Nets.
Victor Oladipo went 5 of 7 from beyond the arc against the Rockets. This dude can really heat up sometimes. I don’t think Westbrook’s ever shot the three that well. As long as Westbrook can collapse the defense (easy to do against the Nets), that three point shot will always be there. The other dude who really impressed me was Alex Abrines. Abrines is just ICE COLD! I just feel like Abrines has a sense for big moments. Like Abrines first three game with 31 seconds left to go in the first quarter, which is perfect timing for the two-for-one. Then Abrines next three came early in the fourth, with OKC facing a 7 point deficit.
Steven Adams definitely had some hand problems, which was a little bit difficult to watch. With that right hand wrapped up, it’s just hard for Adams to have much finesse around the basket. And Sabonis, while still very able, will get burned by stretch fours. Not likely to be a problem tonight, but definitely long term. Jerami Grant is more mobile and can jump higher, so he works well as a Sabonis replacement in some cases.
How tonight will go
Westbrook had 30 against the Rockets and is well on his way to the scoring title. The Nets allowed Westbrook to score 27 on them twice last year, and that was with KD hogging possessions. I’m predicting a complete Thunder smashing. I will say though that Lopez has been even more effective against OKC in the past. Last year, Lopez went for 31 points and 26 points in his two Thunder outings. Adams was out for one of those games. Lopez range will hurt Adams, but Adams should focus on keeping Lopez out of the paint and letting him shoot. All about those boards!
Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 112, Brooklyn Nets 96.
What do you think of tonight’s game? Drop a comment and let us know!
Injuries: Jeremy Lin (Out), Caris LeVert (Out), Cameron Payne (Out)
Time: 7:00 PM CST
Place: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
TV: FSOK, YES