Game: Oklahoma City Thunder vs Atlanta Hawks
Time: 6:30PM CST
Location: State Farm Arena, Atlanta
Counterpart: Peachtree Hoops
The Thunder travel to Atlanta tonight to face the Atlanta Hawks, where the Thunder are looking to ride the momentum of a solid performance in a big win over the Spurs.
The biggest side-drama to tonight’s game will be backup point guard Dennis Schroder’s return to the team that drafted him in 2013.
Dennis Schroder on why Atlanta wasn’t the right situation for him, said he wanted to be in an organization that wanted to win: “I’m a competitor and I try to give everything out there. I want the organization to feel the same way.” pic.twitter.com/ZdBRBWJDm4— Erik Horne (@ErikHorneOK) January 15, 2019
While Schroder’s comments could certainly be seen as throwing some shade at his former team, which now sits at 13-30 and looks to once again be lottery-bound, it isn’t some thinking that is difficult to understand when you go from a team that is one of the league’s best during the 2014-15 season to one of the worst. That said, the final two years of Atlanta’s decline are the same ones where Schroder was slotted as their “point guard of the future.”
Regardless of where things were, Schroder is attempting to continue to move things in the right direction, and his performance last game was a solid uptick. But it can’t stop there; he has to continue to lead the bench and its role players to be an asset to the team, and to do so with the continued absence of Nerlens Noel, who is still in concussion protocol, and Alex Abrines, who remains out for personal reasons.
Perhaps the biggest temptation — and risk — for the Thunder tonight is to fall into the trap of trying to run with the Hawks. Not that OKC can’t run, but because if they play too much up-tempo, it can negate their defensive abilities, especially against a young backcourt. In addition, Russell Westbrook must continue his focus as an inside-outside guard instead of a “bombs away!” shooter, and in this way should be able to do well in his matchup against Trae Young.
But if anything, this is a trap game. Sloppy play and inattention to detail — say, for example, taking too many stupid shots — can always spell disaster.
Who do you think will win tonight?
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