Game: Oklahoma City Thunder vs Sacramento Kings
Time: 7PM CST
Location: Chesapeake Arena, OKC
Counterpart: Sactown Royalty
Rolling Thunder Review podcast with counterpart
Did you catch up on your sleep yet?
We hope Westbrook, George in the gang did, because tonight they face the new youth movement in Sacramento, as De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and the gang look to burn out OKC after an epic 2OT affair that ended in the wee hours of this morning.
The Jazz took OKC to the limit, and we can expect the Kings to do the same. They are coming off another heartbreaking loss to the Warriors — Golden State swept them 4-0 this season, but every game was in play for the Kings — and Sacramento will be looking to take that near success and create actual success, and in the process take the regular season series against the Thunder.
Also important to remember — in the Thunder’s most recent big win over the Kings where they controlled nearly throughout, Sacramento was without rookie phenom Marvin Bagley III, who has wreaked havoc on the Thunder on the interior. Bagley is precisely the kind of athletic, aggressive, springy big man that the Thunder have had trouble containing, and if OKC doesn’t give a better rebounding effort than they did against the Jazz, we’re going to see similar results.
Although the Thunder like to play with pace, this is a game where they would do well to slow things down. As we saw earlier against Sacramento (as well as in their loss to Atlanta), the Thunder lose their defensive bearings when they play too fast, and their defense is the one thing that gives them a clear advantage over a Kings team that can score with anyone in a variety of ways. As we pointed out, they have been good enough to beat the Warriors 4 times this year; they just couldn’t get quite enough stops or make one or two extra plays they needed.
With Russell Westbrook’s offense starting to take form, I would expect him to work frequently out of the post this evening against the smaller Fox, while Paul George will go to work against newly acquired Harrison Barnes, a player who has historically played well against OKC. But the onus will be on Steven Adams, Jerami Grant, and likely Markieff Morris to defend the interior against Bagley and Willie Cauley-Stein.
But more than that, the Thunder will once again be challenged to perform a better version of their pick and roll defense — dynamite when it’s clicking, and as porous as a fishing net when it isn’t.
Hold onto you butts. It’s off to the races again.
Who do you think will win tonight?
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