The Oklahoma City Thunder are starting a new season that could be a monumental shift in the team’s trajectory. The Thunder’s Carmelo Anthony is facing his old team, the New York Knicks, and the Thunder welcome back Stache Bro 4ever, Enes Kanter. All arrows are pointing to the Thunder to come out with the win tonight because of their new big three, but a learning curve is expected
- Venue: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
- Date: October 19
- Time: 8:00 PM EDT
OKC is looking forward to start the season off with a boom, and facing the rebuilding Knicks will be just what the doctor ordered for OKC. The Knicks lost two primary scorers in the starting lineup (Derrick Rose, Melo) and lost their most productive player off the bench due to free agency in Justin Holiday. New York has to rely heavily on their new face of the team Kristaps Porzingis.
In the preseason, the Thunder did a fantastic job on the defensive end by holding their last three opponents to under 100 points. Steven Adams and Paul George will be the glue for the defense. While facing the Knicks, Andre Roberson will be tasked with stopping Tim Hardaway, Jr from getting hot on the perimeter; a year ago, Hardaway set his career high in points per game (14.5) and field goal percentage (45.5%).
While we expect that the first couple of games to start the season will be shaky and difficult to get on track, the key to success for not only this game but for the whole season is going to be to be the second unit. You can expect at least one player out the big three to always be on the floor at all times to smooth out the transitions.
During an interview with ESPN, Melo stated that this game gives him the chance to “close the chapter” on his time in New York.
The highlight matchup of the game is Anthony vs his old teammate Kristaps Porzingis. As we saw in the preseason, Melo is embracing his role as a defensive stopper after doing a phenomenal job on containing Anthony Davis to 14 points. Porzingis is the next step.
What To Watch:
- How Westbrook, Paul George, and Melo take turns running the offense.
- How George and Anthony move without the ball.
- Who will lead the second unit with Ray Felton still questionable for a return following a wrist injury.
Projected starting lineup:
PG: Ramon Sessions
SG: Courtney Lee
SF: Tim Hardaway Jr.
PF: Kristaps Porzingis
C: Willy Hernangomez
PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Andre Roberson
SF: Paul George
PF: Carmelo Anthony
C: Steven Adams
Patrick Patterson- questionable
Raymond Felton - questionable