OKC at CHI Preview – Bouncing Back Strong
CHICAGO – There’s no room for lingering on the previous night’s result in the NBA.
Regardless of whether it wins or loses in the previous night’s game, during the course of the 82-game regular season, the Thunder recognizes the importance of being able to leave each game behind and move onto the next one. On Sunday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena the Thunder didn’t put together an effort up to its standards on both ends of the floor in a loss to the Dallas Mavericks, but tonight it gets a chance to get back on the right track in a road game against the Chicago Bulls.
Team leaders like Kevin Durant and Nick Collison ensure that every man on the squad is ready to play with intensity and a clear mind. In addition, Head Coach Scott Brooks will have the services of Russell Westbrook, who sat out Sunday night's contest.
“That’s the best part about it, if we had won too,” Durant said. “It’s just putting this behind us and trying to build off of it. We lost so we’ll try to build off of what we did wrong and just try to work on our mistakes and give a better effort.”
The Thunder’s focus first and foremost tonight will come on the defensive end, as it wants to be better at stopping the ball at the point of attack so that Bulls players don’t get free in the lane for drop off passes or kickouts to shooters. If the Thunder is aggressive and strong out front at on the perimeter, it will force Chicago into low percentage looks late in the shot clock.
“It’s going to be another team that is really going to move the ball,” Collison explained. “It’s just being much sharper and being more engaged on the defensive end. Be the aggressors and not just let them do whatever they want, like they did tonight and let the ball go wherever they wanted it to go.”
An essential part of keeping the ball out of the paint will be how the Thunder defends Joakim Noah, the Bulls’ center who serves as the general on both sides of the court. On defense his presence and communication helps Chicago boast one of the league’s best units, while on offense, he facilitates much of the offense in pick-and-rolls and from operating as a passer and driver out of the high post. If the Thunder can keep Noah from getting loose, it has a chance to come away with a hard-earned road win.
“He has a high motor,” Collison said of Noah. “He’s a good passer. A lot of times he’s quarterbacking off of pick-and-rolls. They throw it to him in the middle of the lane and he’s finding players.
“Like every game, we need to be more engaged, have less breakdowns to where we can cover up and we can have a tight shell and not allow those easy passes to shooters or cutters,” Collison continued.
In the Notes:
- The Thunder is 1-0 against the Bulls this season, and overall is 7-3 against Chicago in the regular season.
- The Thunder is 3-0 in games on Monday nights so far this season
- The Thunder has the second best record in the NBA in bounce-back games since the start of the 2011-12 season, at 43-13.
7:00 p.m. CT. TV – Fox Sports Oklahoma/ESPN; Radio – 98.1 FM The Sports Animal, Thunder Radio Network