Start time - 6:00 p.m. (CT)
Broadcaster - Bally Sports Oklahoma
The Thunder’s last game against the Kings went very well. Chet Holmgren locked down the interior and the team put up a balanced scoring effort. Tre Mann led the Thunder in scoring but there were five double digit scorers on the night.
The Thunder’s test tonight is going to be tougher than the Kings; Golden State have a group of highly talented youngsters who have already shown an ability to contribute to a veteran team at such a young age. Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga both played spot minutes for the Warriors last year and were mature in their performances.
James Wiseman is the wildcard of the group. Wiseman has only played 39 games in his first two seasons in the NBA. He has struggled for health and spent an entire season recovering a knee injury. Nobody knows quite what to expect from James but he is a highly touted prospect.
In his three games at Memphis, Wiseman dominated at the collegiate level and flashed the traits of a modern big man. Wiseman showed touch as an outside shooter and strong, protective interior defense. He was the unicorn of the 2020 NBA Draft and is still trying to live up to those expectations.
Wiseman was expected to match up against Chet Holmgren but in the last hour, it has been announced that Chet Holmgren will not suit up tonight. Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman had the details.
Chet Holmgren will not play tonight, per the Thunder.— Joe Mussatto (@joe_mussatto) July 15, 2022
While I would have loved to see Chet play against Wiseman, it is an understandable decision on the part of the Thunder. Coach Woods still has a full roster to explore and has not yet had the chance to try creative, unexpected lineups. Benching Holmgren should provide him with the opportunity to play JRE or J-Will at center with another player in the front-court next to them.
I would be intrigued to see how Ousmane Dieng slots in at the 4. Dieng is a versatile, smooth defender who covers ground effortlessly and I like the idea of him roaming around, racking up deflections. He could be what Nicholas Batum was to the Blazers during their playoff run in 2014.
The decision also makes sense for the Thunder front office. There is no sense in overplaying Holmgren at this early stage of his career. Resting him and managing heavy workload makes a ton of sense while Holmgren’s body is still developing.
The Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors have so much shared history that each game feels a little bit special. The Warriors are one of the few true rivals that the Thunder have; a win would be sweet tonight.
The championship game is an outside possibility. Oklahoma City have to win by 26 points to qualify for the final which does seem far-fetched. It will be tough but I do not want to see the Thunder give up on the goal. Winning is important and it is important to build these habits when the roster is still young.