Saturday, January 25, 2014, 7:30PM (EST) at Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Posted: January 25, 2014
Looking to avenge a 116-109 home overtime loss to Oklahoma City last season, the Sixers (14-29) host the Thunder (34-10) Saturday night. For both teams, it will be their second game of a back-to-back.
If you'll be in attendance, remember that tonight's game is one of 10 True Blue Saturday contests. So be sure to wear blue!
Matchup to Watch
PG Michael Carter-Williams vs. PG Reggie Jackson
Rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams has averaged 23.3 points (43.6 FG%, 66.7 3P%), 7.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 2.3 steals over his last three games. Saturday night, he’ll face off against another talented young point guard, Reggie Jackson. In the absence of Russell Westbrook (knee), Jackson has started 18 games in 2013-14, averaging 14.6 points (44.2 FG%, 36.8 3P%), 4.8 assists, and 3.8 rebounds per game. Against Tony Parker and the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday, Jackson notched 27 points (12/17 FG) and eight assists and didn’t commit a single turnover.
Scouting the Thunder
The Slim Reaper
In the Thunder’s Friday win over the Boston Celtics, All-Star forward Kevin Durant sat due to a shoulder injury suffered against the Spurs on Wednesday. His absence marked the first time in Thunder franchise history that both he and Russell Westbrook did not suit up. Durant’s status for Saturday night’s game against the Sixers is questionable.
If he does play, expect him to be the focal point of the Sixers’ defensive efforts. The 6’9” forward has averaged 28.9 points per game over the last five seasons (350 games), and his 10,098 points dating back to 2009-10 are the most of any player in the league during that stretch. This season, he’s scoring a career-high 31.0 points per game on 50.4% shooting.
In the absence of Westbrook, Durant has taken his already extraordinary offensive game to the next level. In 15 games sans Westbrook, Durant is averaging a jaw-dropping 36.5 points per game on 52.4% shooting. He’s scored at least 30 points in all but two of those games, topping out at a career-high 54 points on 19-of-28 shooting against the Golden State Warriors on January 17.
Beyond the gaudy scoring numbers that Kevin Durant is currently producing, he’s also affecting the game in nearly every other facet. This season, he’s averaging 7.7 rebounds and a career-high 5.1 assists per game, while matching the best defensive rating (100) of his career. His field/arc/line shooting splits of 50.4%, 41.3%, and 88.2% put him in serious contention to become the fourth player ever to hit the illustrious marks of 40/50/90 in consecutive seasons.
Center Spencer Hawes is currently shooting 41.0% from beyond the arc this season, good for 14th in the league amongst players with at least 50 three-point makes on the season. If he can continue to shoot above 40% through the final three months of the year, he’d become just the third seven-footer ever to accomplish that feat.
Since suffering a sprained right ankle against the Bulls last Saturday, guard Tony Wroten has not suited up in any of the Sixers’ last three games and his status for Saturday’s game has yet to be determined.
Tale of the Tape
|Category||Thunder (30-14)||Sixers (14-29)|
|PPG||Kevin Durant – 31.0||Evan Turner – 18.5|
|RPG||Serge Ibaka – 8.9||Spencer Hawes – 8.8|
|APG||Reggie Jackson – 4.0||Michael Carter-Williams – 6.6|
|SPG||Kevin Durant – 1.5||Michael Carter-Williams – 2.5|
|BPG||Serge Ibaka – 2.4||Spencer Hawes – 1.4|