OKC vs. ATL Preview – Brief Trip Home
The Thunder is back in town for just one game in the midst of two three-game east coast road trips, but it wants to make the most of its chance to play in front of the Chesapeake Energy Arena crowd.
Riding a seven game winning streak, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ team has been playing at a high level on both ends of the floor thanks to full team efforts. In sweeping three sets of back-to-backs over the past week-and-a-half, the Thunder has gotten contributions from everyone on the roster. From Kendrick Perkins’ defense, to energetic minutes from starters like Serge Ibaka or reserves like Perry Jones, the Thunder has been well-rounded.
“We have a different person stepping up every night,” Perkins said. “You have KD (Kevin Durant) playing at an unbelievable level right now, but you have a different guy coming in and giving us good minutes, whether it’s Derek Fisher, Perry Jones, Jeremy Lamb, Serge (Ibaka) and Nick (Collison). That’s what having a good, deep team is about.”
The catalyst behind all of the Thunder’s efforts on both sides of the ball has been Kevin Durant, whose streak of games with 30-or-more points has reached ten, capped most recently by his 32-point, 14-rebound, 10-assists triple double in a win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Offensively, Durant is simply making the correct basketball play, finding scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates. On the defensive end of the floor, his energy, length and intensity have been inspirational to teammates, and his rebounding has helped turn Thunder stops into immediate offense. Despite his personal and team success, it’s Durant’s persistence and desire to achieve new heights that has and will continue to help propel the Thunder forward.
“You can tell the energy and leadership that he is bringing,” Perkins said. “He’s just focused right now. We’re just following his lead and keep building.”
“We have to be better,” Durant said emphatically.
With tonight’s opponent in the 23-20 Atlanta Hawks on the docket, the 34-10 Thunder has another opportunity as it faces the team with the third best record in the Eastern Conference. Durant, who just won Western Conference Player of the Week, and his teammates will have to contend with Paul Millsap, who just won Eastern Conference Player of the Week. Along the perimeter, the Thunder will also be keeping an eye on Kyle Korver, who totes an NBA record streak of 112 straight games with a made three-pointer.
“They run a lot of sets at the elbows, they set a lot of screens and run a lot of floppy sets for Kyle Korver,” Perkins explained. “We have to make sure we’re all tied on a string today and communicating. It’ll be a great day for the bigs to help the guards out a whole lot. We still have to worry about Millsap, on the other hand.”
In the Notes:
- The Thunder is 1-0 against the Hawks this season, and overall is 6-4 against Atlanta in the regular season.
- The Thunder is 13-2 against Eastern Conference opponents so far this season.
- The Thunder is 19-3 at Chesapeake Energy Arena so far this season.
7:00 p.m. CT. TV – Fox Sports Oklahoma; Radio – 98.1 FM The Sports Animal, Thunder Radio Network