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Thunder vs Hawks preview and gamethread: OKC looks to close out week with win over Atlanta

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Will OKC avoid playing down to their opponent?

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Atlanta Hawks Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Game: Oklahoma City Thunders vs Atlanta Hawks

Time: 7 P.M. CST

Location: Chesapeake Arena

Broadcast: FSOK

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In a crowded Western Conference, the Thunder currently are in fourth place. This game against the Hawks presents an opportunity to get somewhat of an easy win. Atlanta is second to last in the Eastern Conference standings, with a record of 5-17.

Although their opponent is below average, the Thunder can not afford to play down to their opponent’s level. Oklahoma City avoided doing so on Wednesday when the blew out the Cavaliers.

Things to look forward to:

Russell Westbrook vs Trae Young

For the second time this week, Westbrook will be matched up with a rookie point guard. On Wednesday, Westbrook dominated Collin Sexton, finishing with a stat line of 23 points, 19 rebounds and 15 assists.

Look forward to another dominant performance from Westbrook against Young. Young’s small frame, will allow Westbrook to use his size to post up and score over Young. Also, Westbrook can use his strength and quickness advantage to attack Young off the dribble.

However, on defense Young presents a different set of challenge, being he is a better shooter and playmaker than Sexton. Westbrook will have to make sure to get over screens, and not give Young a slither of space to get his shot off. Also, Westbrook will need discipline in not turning it into a head-to-head matchup from beyond the arc.

OKC’s length vs Atlanta’s 3-point shooting

One thing that has been clear — a quarter into the season, is the Thunder play very good defense and generally improves as the game goes on. Oklahoma City ranks top ten in opponent field goal percentage, and in opponents points per game.

The cause of such dominant defense is the effect Oklahoma City’s length has on the opposing team.

“Contesting every shot, meeting them at the rim, one of the main things we’ve been focusing on since day one is one on one defense,” said Nerlens Noel.

In this matchup with Atlanta, the Thunder will need to use that length to their advantage to defend against the potential deadly three point shooting of the Hawks. Atlanta is fourth in the NBA in three pointers attempted per game. Despite being 29th in field goal percentage from three, Atlanta can shoot a team out the gym — a fact no more evident than when they scored 133 on the Cavaliers earlier this season.

This is the second game of a five game stretch versus Eastern Conference opponents for the Thunder. A win streak during this stretch will help Oklahoma City move up in the Western Conference standings. Let’s see if the Thunder build off their win over Cleveland with another one tonight.

Poll

Who will be the Thunder’s leading scorer tonight?

This poll is closed

  • 53%
    Russell Westbrook
    (51 votes)
  • 32%
    Paul George
    (31 votes)
  • 5%
    Dennis Schroder
    (5 votes)
  • 8%
    Steven Adams
    (8 votes)
  • 1%
    Jerami Grant
    (1 vote)
96 votes total Vote Now