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Thunder vs Kings preview: OKC looks to continue momentum vs Sacramento

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The Thunder are starting to surge (again); can they survive a trap game?

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Sacramento Kings Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma City Thunder vs Sacramento Kings

Time: 7PM CST

Location: Chesapeake Arena, OKC

Broadcast: FSOK


4) Starting Five Match-Up battle: Kings vs Thunder

In their most recent matchup against the San Antonio Spurs, the Thunder relied heavily on defense to get the job done. They will need to do the same in tonight’s game against a younger and more athletic Sacramento Kings team. The Thunder did a great job speeding up their offensive transition while slowing down the Spurs offensive attack. Those transition buckets might be harder to stop with the back court of De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic. Fox is incredibly light on his feet as he is one of the fastest players in the NBA. Bogdananovic provides a sound jump-shot and solid athleticism. Russell Westbrook dominates Fox in size and can probably match him in speed as well. Westbrook in every category you can think of dominates Fox, but don’t let Fox fool you he can still drive inside with ease.

Corey Brewer will look to continue his strong play against a less than stellar defender in Bogdananovic. Rookie Justin Jackson has been seeing more and more time floor time lately as he attempts to finish his rookie season on a high note. Jackson’s length and determination might provide some sight, but not major concerns for all-star Paul George. He turned in a very poor offensive performance against the Spurs, but you can’t expect a huge offensive threat like George to stay quiet for very long. The same can be said for Carmelo Anthony as he shot just 1-8 from the floor on Saturday night. He will be battling against one of the few veterans that has been in the league longer than him in Zach Randolph. As for the battle down low Steven Adams should have his way with Kings center Kosta Koufos.

3) Thunder’s strong defense needs to carry over

Paul George and Carmelo Anthony combined for just 13 points on 5-26 shooting on Saturday night. Miraculously, the Thunder figured out a way to control the game for a big win. Without a doubt the Thunder’s defense not only showed up but shut down the Spurs in a 104-94 win. They applied terrific ball pressure and forced bad shots out of a Spurs offense that is very good in creating good open shots with ball movement.

Although the Spurs might have better shooters than the Kings, one advantage the Kings do have over the Spurs offense is their ability to drive the ball inside. The Thunder will need to watch the pick-n-roll closely and apply the same brand of defense they did in their last victory. The most impressive part of their defensive performance was that they were able to do it for a full 48 minutes. As the Kings try to play spoiler, the Thunder need to persevere and continue to find ways to win.

2) Can the Thunder bench provide another offensive outburst?

There have been times this season where the Thunder bench has cost this team games. As previously mentioned, George and Anthony put out abysmal offensive performances on Saturday night, but the Thunder bench pulled out a collective win in their absence. The Thunder bench scored 50 of the Thunder’s 104 points. It is uncharacteristic for any bench to do this, but the Thunder’s bench more in particular with how erratic the production has been all year.

The charge was led by Raymond Felton who dished out 5 assists; helping create double digit scores for Jerami Grant (15), Alex Abrines (11), and Patrick Patterson (10). The Kings don’t have nearly the bench depth that the Thunder have. Not only that, but the Thunder have one of the deepest benches in the Western Conference. Hopefully they can provide much needed consistency tonight if the Thunder look to extend this winning streak.

1) Thunder need to win season series over Kings

When it comes to beating teams you need to beat, the Thunder have been hit and miss with that philosophy up to this point. They have performed OK against the Kings this year, winning the first 2 out of 3 games. Even if the Kings are out of playoff contention they still pose a threat to the Thunder. They have enough shooters in Buddy Hield, Gary Temple, and Zach Randolph to keep the Thunder on their toes defensively. If the Thunder are able to pull out a win tonight that would make it 3 in a row and they will be tied for 4th place in the Western Conference.

No matter how the Thunder are able to get it done tonight, whether it’s bounce back offensive games, or another extremely strong defensive performance, they will take a win in any kind of fashion to advance themselves in the standings.


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