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February 7: Oklahoma City Thunder vs Detroit Pistons - Preview & Game Thread

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Oklahoma City look to win four in a row against a banged up Pistons’ side.

Detroit Pistons v Oklahoma City Thunder Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

Oklahoma City beat Cleveland two nights ago but the performance was not that great, OKC were able to get away with a few glaring errors because of Cleveland’s lack of talent, this will be something that the Thunder will look to fix as the team plays their way to the All-Star break. The trade deadline passing and the whole roster staying together will be a big part of the performances improving, the uncertainty regarding trades is out of sight until the off-season. The Pistons are an injury ravaged team at the moment who are missing crucial players, this has to be a game where the Thunder put in a professional performance and controls the game. The game starts at 8:00 (EST)

Three Points to note for the Thunder:

  1. Dennis Schroder - Dennis Schroder was one of the Thunder players who was heavily involved in trade rumours. It is known that the Lakers had initiated communications with the Thunder in regards to acquiring Dennis. While nothing came from the conversations, it can be easy for a player to be distracted by the uncertainty that goes with trade talks. Dennis was not distracted against Cleveland and led the Thunder to a victory. Schroder dropped thirty points, six assists and five rebounds off the bench, ten points came in the fourth quarter as his scoring put the Thunder in a commanding position. Dennis has had a brilliant season and has built a strong candidacy for Sixth Man of the Year based off Dennis making an impact for the Thunder every time he plays. I would also say that Schroder is different to the last few winners of the Sixth Man of the Year award, he actually tries hard on defence compared to winners like Lou Williams, Jamal Crawford and James Harden. Schroder tries on both ends which only increases his value to the team.
  2. Defensive Intensity - Oklahoma City were really inconsistent on defence against Cleveland for the first three quarters. The Cavaliers got too many easy buckets in transition as the OKC were sluggish in this area of the game. It was only in the fourth quarter where Oklahoma City locked in and slowed Cleveland down. This will be something for Billy Donovan to work on in a busy portion of the schedule, the Thunder play four games in six days. There has to be a focus on getting players to play with intensity for all forty eight minutes instead of just the final twelve minutes. Offence will come and go during games which is the reason why defence is important, when teams get out to huge leads, it is hard for the Thunder to chase down the deficit. While the Thunder have been comeback specialists, being down by twenty is not a strong position.
  3. The Band is Kept Together - The trade deadline brought around a deal for Danilo Gallinari that was almost completed by the Thunder front office and the Miami Heat. Miami wanted Gallo as part of a three team trade which would have netted them Gallinari and Iguodala. Ultimately, Sam Presti decided that the offer fielded by Pat Riley was not good enough for Presti to pull the trigger on the deal. The offer of salary filler and loosened pick protections was not enough to get Gallinari to the Heat. Although, Gallinari’s contract runs out at the end of the season, there is no pressure for the Thunder. The free agency pool is relatively shallow and the Thunder will have the ability to put a premium on players like Gallinari and Chris Paul because there were be few available quality players. Moreover, OKC have Gallinari’s full bird rights and can offer him the most possible money. The Thunder can use the financial leverage and Gallinari’s desire to play on a contender to fix a sign and trade for Danilo. By all accounts, Gallo is fond of the Thunder and wants to play the season out.

Pistons’ Points:

Rebuild - Detroit have trundled through mediocrity and first-round exists over the last few season. The owner, Tom Gores, has made play-off basketball a priority because of the additional revenue which it brings to a franchise, it is one of the reasons why Detroit have made so many win-now moves in the recent past. Finally, the Pistons are ready to embrace the rebuild and they have started the rebuild by dealing Andre Drummond. Drummond has been the franchise for the last seven years but will now playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Detroit got Brandon Knight, John Henson and a second round pick in return for Andre Drummond, a former All-Star. It is a small return for Andre but it does make sense, Drummond has made it clear that he intends to test free agency this summer, he is a rental for the Cavs. From the Cleveland side of the deal, it does not seem to make sense. Cleveland are in the middle of a slow rebuilding process where Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love will both likely leave in the summer. Andre does not fit the rebuilding timeline on which John Beilein is operating on.

Injury Report

Derrick Rose (Out)

Svi Mykhailiuk (Groin Injury)

Andre Drummond (Traded Away)

Markieff Morris (Illness)

Khyri Thomas (Foot)

Luke Kennard (Knee)

Random Side-Note:

Chris Paul has endeared himself to Thunder fans across the half season which he has been a member of the franchise. After the Cleveland, he gave away his game-worn jersey to a little girl.

All-Star Note:

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will play in the Skills’ Challenge in Chicago on All-Star Weekend after Derrick Rose dropped out.