Tonight, riding a pair of statement wins, the Oklahoma City Thunder look to halt Indiana’s momentum while extending their own.
For Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook’s recent clutch heroics have reached dizzying heights. The six-time All Star has crushed both Memphis and Portland with successive fourth-quarter performances for the ages.
Briefly consider Westbrook’s averages of 19 ppg, 15-17 FTA, and 10-15 FGM through his past two final stanzas. This sheer force of will has erased a despondent season narrative and infused the gritty and resourceful Thunder with renewed life.
Consider also that Billy Donovan’s masterful ideology has elicited the utmost from a roster cast aside by many pursuant to seismic off-season shifts, and again as Enes Kanter shattered his forearm.
While this OKC iteration has struggled at times, its defining element is a seemingly endless inner reserve and will to win. That intangible cannot be discounted tonight, on the tail end of a back-to-back vs. the steamrolling Indiana Pacers.
Meanwhile, the Pacers have reeled six-consecutive victories. The crowning achievement of Indiana’s impressive run is a 120-101 statement win over Houston.
Coach Nate McMillan’s surging group has utilized swarming defense and the all-around play of Paul George, Jeff Teague, and Myles Turner to barrel through the Eastern Conference standings.
Tonight’s West vs. East matchup will feature a pair of dueling All-Star reserves, but is likely to be won or lost by each acclaimed players’ supporting cast.
Indiana used 30 points from Teague, and 20 from Thaddeus Young (currently out due to injury) to defeat OKC 115-111 during an early Nov. overtime meeting.
- Oklahoma City Thunder (30-22 #7 West) vs. Indiana Pacers (28-22 #6 East)
- Time: 7 PM ET
- Venue: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
- TV: FS Oklahoma HD
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER KEYS TO VICTORY
- Limit Jeff Teague: Teague has a history of inconsistent play. OKC should make the mercurial guard doubt himself early and often.
- Roberson vs. George: This is tonight’s key matchup. Roberson must hound George on the perimeter.
- Play physical on the interior: This begins and ends with Steven Adams’ efforts.
- Oladipo effect: Oklahoma City needs consecutive strong games from its starting two-guard.
- Keep up the energy after traveling from OKC to Indy on the second night of a back-to-back
- Westbrook. His value to the team is so immense that listing him in the ‘keys to victory’ is a near-bromide exercise.
Probable Starting Lineups/Injury Report
The Oklahoma City Thunder lists Enes Kanter (Forearm) as out. Alex Abrines is cleared to play, but may have his minutes cut into by a recently effective Anthony Morrow. The Indiana Pacers list Thaddeus Young (wrist) as out. Myles Turner (Illness) and Rodney Stuckey (Ankle) are questionable for tonight’s contest.
Oklahoma City Thunder
- Point Guard: Russell Westbrook
- Shooting Guard: Victor Oladipo
- Small Forward: Andre Roberson
- Power Forward: Domantas Sabonis
- Center: Steven Adams
- Point Guard: Jeff Teague
- Shooting Guard: C.J. Miles
- Small Forward: Paul George
- Power Forward: Lavoy Allen
- Center: Myles Turner/Al Jefferson
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER +4
The Indiana Pacers are listed as moderate favorites by way of holding home-court advantage and a sizable winning streak. Also tilting the odds in the Pacers’ favor is the fact that Oklahoma City is competing in the second outing of a back-to-back ledger.
This season, Oklahoma City is 12-15 in road contests. Meanwhile, Indiana holds a strong 19-6 home record.