OKC at CHA Game Preview – Offensive Execution in Clash of Strong Defenses

CHARLOTTE – Execution is always of the utmost importance to the Thunder’s offense, but on Friday, the Thunder will have to find open looks against one of the NBA’s best defenses.

The Charlotte Bobcats rank third in the NBA in field goal percentage defense and points allowed to opponents, forcing teams to shoot just 42.6 percent from the field while only allowing 93.6 points per game. Under head coach Steve Clifford, the Bobcats have used athletic lineups with players like Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Josh McRoberts and Bismack Biyombo to stymie opponents.

Much like Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks’ lengthy, quick player combinations, the Bobcats will force the Thunder to play with the same selflessness, precision and intelligence on the offensive end in order to find shots for one another within the flow of the offense.

“Give coach Clifford a lot of credit,” Brooks said. “They came back and got better. They’re a team who we have to focus (against) on both ends of the floor.”

“They have some good players and they’re well coached,” Brooks continued. “They play hard and they’re playing at a higher level right now.”

As with each opponent, the 23-5 Thunder will approach the 14-15 Bobcats with specificity in terms of gameplan but with its typical level of high intensity and concentration on its own principles. If the Thunder sticks to what it does well on both ends of the floor while working as a unit to attack Charlotte’s defense, it will have a chance to wrap up its quick two-game holiday road trip with two wins.

The frontcourt tandem of McRoberts and Al Jefferson will challenge the Thunder with their passing, while Walker has been attacking off the dribble to find scoring opportunities, helping him average a team-high 18.7 points per game. The Thunder wants to make sure the Bobcats have to work for their shots in the half court, and both teams will try to keep teams out of transition in what looks to be a defensive battle.

“Their big guys are really great at playing off of each other,” forward Kevin Durant said. “We have our work cut out, and playing on the road is tough no matter who you’re playing.”

"It's going to be two defensive teams going at it tonight, and i'm sure it's going to be a grind out game," Durant explained.

In the Notes:

- The Thunder went 2-0 against the Bobcats last season, and overall is 7-2 against Charlotte.

- The Thunder is 8-1 against the Eastern Conference this year, including 4-0 on the road thus far this season.

- When the Thunder has had its normal starting lineup of Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant, Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka is 17-2 so far this season.

Broadcast Info:

6:00 p.m. CT. TV – Fox Sports Oklahoma, Radio – 98.1 FM The Sports Animal, Thunder Radio Network