OKC at DEN Game Preview – Rebound and Get Back

DENVER – The Thunder is quick, long and athletic, as are their opponents tonight, the Nuggets. With both teams interested in generating high percentage shots early in the shot clock, tonight’s contest has the makings of a fast-paced contest.

In fact, both teams rank in the top eight in number of possessions per 48 minutes of action, with the Thunder racking up 99.32, the third most, and the Nuggets averaging 97.98, eighth most. Led by point guard Ty Lawson, the Nuggets like to push tempo and attack the paint with the dribble. Head Coach Scott Brooks’ Thunder squad will need to work together on defense to keep Lawson out of the lane.

“They’re fast,” Brooks said. “They play with great pace. They’re relentless. Transition defense is obviously very important. It’s critical for us tonight. They play with such great force down the court.”

Another area where the Nuggets have success is around the rim, where it ranks third in rebounds per game, snagging 13.0 offensive rebounds per game and ranking fifth in second chance points with 15.2 per game. The Thunder comes into the game as the league’s leading rebounding team, snagging 47.3 boards per game. 11.4 of those boards come on the offensive end, which creates 13.8 second chance points per contest for Brooks’ club. The Thunder has to be wary of crashing the glass too hard, however, as the Nuggets rack up 13.7 fast break points per game as they try to get out into the open floor.

“We have to be able to rebound against them and just give them one shot,” Brooks continued. “If the opportunity is there we have to get offensive rebounds ourselves. More importantly if we’re not there in the rebounding position, we have to get back on defense.”

It will take a team effort to take away the Nuggets’ dribble-drive ability, three-point shooting, offensive rebounding and transition offense, but the Thunder always takes a mental approach conducive to togetherness each day. Leaders like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook set the tone for dedication to the unit, and every member of the team follows suit, working collectively to find the best way to facilitate winning. In order to get a win tonight in Denver, the Thunder will have to do just that for all 48 minutes.

“The best part about our group is we always figure out how we can help the team,” Durant said. “It’s not about individuals. It’s how we can help the team. I think that’s why we’re getting better. We just have to keep that mindset. We’re far from where we want to be. We can’t get complacent. We just have to keep pushing.”

In the Notes:

- The Thunder is 1-0 against the Nuggets so far this season, and overall is 8-12 against Denver.

- Thunder reserve guard Jeremy Lamb has scored in double digits each of the last four games.

- Thunder forward Kevin Durant is scoring 29.3 points per game through nine contests in the month of December while shooting 55.6 percent from the field and 51.6 percent from the three-point line.

Broadcast Info:

8:00 p.m. CT. TV – Fox Sports Oklahoma, Radio – 98.1 FM The Sports Animal, Thunder Radio Network