OKC vs. DEN Game Preview – Stopping Dribble Penetration Key Tonight

The Thunder loves to get out and run, but also couple that high tempo with stout defense. Tonight against the Denver Nuggets, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ team will have a chance to test that recipe.

In the first game of a six-game home stand for the Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Brooks’ club will host the Northwest Division rival Denver Nuggets. Despite losing three players who combined for 82 minutes per game last season (Andre Iguodala, Corey Brewer and Kosta Koufos) and changed their head coach (Brian Shaw is now at the helm), the Nuggets still play a similar brand of basketball, currently ranking second in field goal attempts and second in rebounds, including fourth on the offensive end. The Thunder, led by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, are prepared to be challenged on both ends of the floor.

“They’re still doing the same things, running, offensive rebounds and scoring the ball in the paint,” Durant explained. “We really have to be on it defensively.”

“We have to be really on point on all spots on the floor,” Durant continued. “This team is a high scoring offense and it’s going to test our defense.”

Point guard Ty Lawson has been the catalyst for Denver thus far, averaging 21.2 points and 8.7 assists per contest through the first nine games of the season. It will be imperative for Westbrook and the other Thunder perimeter players to keep the shifty Lawson out of the paint, where he can do damage with his shot and his passing. Preventing dribble penetration, particularly in the pick-and-roll, is always a focus for the Thunder, but against Lawson and the Nuggets it will be crucial to overall success on the defensive end.

“That’s the head of the snake right there,” Durant said. “He can get into the lane and wreak havoc… We have to try to contain him.”

In the Notes:

- The Thunder went 1-3 against the Nuggets in 2012-13, and overall is 7-12 against Denver.

- The Thunder is 4-1 this season when Serge Ibaka blocks three-or-more shots.

- The Thunder held its most recent opponent, the Milwaukee Bucks, to just 79 points and 34.9 percent shooting, season lows for a Thunder opponent.

Broadcast Info:

7:00 p.m. CT. TV – Fox Sports Oklahoma, Radio – 98.1 FM The Sports Animal, Thunder Radio Network