OKC vs. MIL Preview – Thunder Focused on Playing its Style
Back home for just one game in between a pair of two-game road trips, the Thunder wants to capitalize on tonight’s chance to play in front of its home crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Facing the Milwaukee Bucks, who the Thunder beat 92-79 on the road earlier this season behind a dominating defensive performance and a career-high rebounding night from Serge Ibaka, who put together a 15-point, 20 rebound, four block evening in Milwaukee. Coming off of two unfortunate road losses, however, the Thunder is coming together to execute on the core tenets of its gameplan.
Ignited by team leaders like Kevin Durant and Nick Collison, The Thunder used this morning’s shootaround as an opportunity to nail down how it wants to play tonight.
“We just have to treat this like the first game of the year as we prepare as far as watching film and going through their plays and our sets,” Durant said. “We had a really great shootaround and guys are focused and ready.”
The Bucks’ record stands at 7-28, but the team is healthy for one of the first times this season, getting Larry Sanders, Caron Butler and Brandon Knight back into the mix. Along with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kris Middleton and John Henson, Sanders provides some major length in the Bucks’ lineup, while OJ Mayo and Gary Neal’s perimeter shooting has provided the Bucks with a perimeter threat.
“They’re definitely better,” Durant said. “Their bench is really good with OJ Mayo and Caron Butler and Nate Wolters coming off. They have a really good bench and their starters play small and quick with Luke (Ridnour) and Brandon Knight in the backcourt, and I like their rookie (Giannis Antetokounmpo). He plays extremely hard and he’s long and athletic. He’s probably the most skilled player on their team.”
While the Bucks look like a different squad since the Thunder faced them in November, which kick-started a stretch where the Thunder won 17-of-18 games, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club will focus on getting back to its winning ways by focusing on how it operates within its own system.
Playing at a fast pace on offense and preventing the Bucks from getting anything easy on the defensive end is the formula for success for the Thunder, and if it can play its style at a high level, the Thunder has a good chance to win tonight.
“We want to always play our game,” Durant explained. “We can play a slow pace and we can play a fast pace. We want to stifle them on the defensive end, cause some turnovers and get out and run. We always want to play as quickly as we can, but we also want to make sure we lock in on the defensive end.”
In the Notes:
- The Thunder is 1-0 against the Bucks this season, and overall is 5-5 against Milwaukee.
- Kevin Durant has scored in double figures in every single game this season, scoring 20-or-more points in 32 games and 30-or-more points in 19 games so far this year.
- Serge Ibaka has grabbed ten-or-more rebounds in 18 games this season, racking up 15 double-doubles in 35 games, as many as he did all of last season.
7:00 p.m. CT. TV – Fox Sports Oklahoma, Radio – 98.1 FM The Sports Animal, Thunder Radio Network