After going win-less two weeks ago, the Oklahoma City Thunder were able to bounce back to go 2-2 in their most recent quarter of games.
Russell Westbrook and his triple-doubles have carried the Thunder so far this season. While Russ is a freak of nature that is more than capable of doing this 82 times, it isn't the best plan of action for the Thunder as a whole.
With a three-game road trip to begin the week, the Thunder will need to step up from the jump or else risk another losing streak. Let's hope Westbrook can get some consistent help on the road as well.
THUNDER RECORD: 8-5 BRANDON RECORD: 8-5
*EDITOR’S NOTE: “On The Doppler Radar section is undergoing a change. For this season it will be an allusion to the player on the opposing team to watch out for.*
11/22 AT Los Angeles Lakers
FORECAST: Cold, but not normal cold, like California Cold (so around 55 degrees)
Things for these two franchises have gone in drastically different directions since the Thunder pushed them to the brink of elimination in their 2010 opening round playoff meeting.
For OKC, they rose to the top of potential contenders list led by a superstar combination of a seven-foot string bean and Russell Westbrook, while the Lakers found themselves dragged to the bottom by their once-in-a-generation star, Kobe Bryant.
Now, both teams are in the midst of a turn over. The Thunder are now completely Westbrook’s team and the Lakers have finally realized that going young is the best option for a rebuild.
These teams are closer in the standings than it seems and games like these could have an impact down the road.
PREDICTION: Thunder 103, Lakers 111
ON THE DOPPLER RADAR: Jordan Clarkson
D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle are the headliners of the Lakers resurgence, but Jordan Clarkson’s assimilation to the sixth man role that has helped this team really find its footing. Clarkson is arguably the second or third best player on this team, but he has willingly taken a back seat for the team's betterment. His scoring output has dipped in his third year in the NBA, but his shooting numbers are up across the board. As Clarkson becomes more acclimated to the league, it’s turning the Los Angeles Lakers from laughing-stock to playoff contender in a short time. Clarkson’s ability to score at all three levels makes him a threat worthy of opposing defense’s attention when he is on the floor. If the Thunder can hold him or any of the trio of young players that lead the Lakers in check this game becomes an easier one for OKC.
11/23 AT Sacramento Kings
FORECAST: Boogie Wonderland
I'm about 75 percent sure I used the above “forecast” joke before, but who cares I love me some DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins.
The Sacramento Kings have been arguably the same team ever since they drafted Cousins. They have the talent to compete, but there was always some fatal flaw that keeps them from reaching the highest levels.
This season, that flaw hasn't been a coach-player feud or any off court distractions. Instead it's mainly been ineptitude on Sacramento’s behalf. While their two wins over the Toronto Raptors are proof that this team is capable of winning on any given night. They have also proven during their 5 and 9 start to the new season that turning into a dumpster fire at any given moment is just as likely.
PREDICTION: Thunder 120, Kings 99
ON THE DOPPLER RADAR: DeMarcus Cousins
As noted above I’m all the way in on DeMarcus Cousins, snarls and all. He’s the most skilled big man in the NBA today and they have yet to make a player who could guard him one-on-one. Steven Adams will have his handful on this game before Thanksgiving. Hopefully Cousins won’t be serving up stuffing to the New Zealander, mate.
11/25 AT Denver Nuggets
FORECAST: Altitude troubles
Playing in the Mile High City is an adjustment for any athlete that comes to Denver.
Even with a day off to adjust, playing this game after a back-to-back seems just plain cruel of the NBA to do (do away with back-to-back games already Adam Silver!).
This is probably one of the tougher stretches--not taking into account the opponent--that OKC has all season. A win here would say a lot about this team’s fight and resolve.
PREDICTION: Thunder 105, Nuggets 96
ON THE DOPPLER RADAR: Danilo Gallinari
Danilo Gallinari has been a thorn in the Thunder’s side ever since being acquired by the Denver Nuggets as part of the Carmelo Anthony deal in 2012. Gallinari’s shooting ability, comfort with the ball, and combination of size and length make him a tough cover. It seemed that squaring off against a similar type of player brought out the best in the Italian. He’s dropped down to under 40 percent field goal percentage and for his career he’s never shot less than 40 percent from the floor. Although the Nuggets have a variety of talented players the Thunder need to worry about on Friday night, if they give the Rooster too much slack he could bury them from deep.
11/26 vs Detroit Pistons
FORECAST: Partly Cloudy
After an embarrassing defeat last week--one in which the Detroit Pistons didn't even have Andre Drummond suited up--the Thunder get a quick turnaround shot at redemption.
Even though public enemy number two, Reggie Jackson, will still be watching from the sidelines expect this game to give us prime-time Russ. Jackson felt that he had earned a starter's role during his time in OKC; something Russ may alway take as a slight.
We see just how Russ responds to slights alleged or factual. Another triple-double looks all but guaranteed from the Brodie, yet will that be enough to get Oklahoma City a victory?
PREDICTION: Thunder 88, Pistons 93
ON THE DOPPLER RADAR: Tobias Harris
Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond are obviously the best players on this roster, but Tobias Harris is the straw that stirs Stan Van Gundy’s drink. His ability to play in the paint or on the wing help Van Gundy adjust his lineups on the floor in ways that allows his groupings to gain the best advantage possible on the court. Harris has excelled in this role and he is the team’s highest scorer. Harris was one of the reasons that the Pistons were able to come away with such a lopsided win when these two teams last met. If they don’t want a repeat of that outing then they’re going to need Jerami Grant or Andre Roberson to nullify any production that Detroit is hoping to get out of Harris.