OKC at IND Game Preview – Ball Movement Crucial
Long road trips or extended homestands don’t impact what the Thunder does best – get to work at the INTEGRIS Health Thunder Development Center.
After wrapping up its Sacramento-Portland-New Orleans road trip with a win over the Pelicans on Friday night, the Thunder got back to work on Saturday in preparation for its matchup against the Indiana Pacers on Sunday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club is led by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but also has the guidance of veterans like Nick Collison, Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha. Those steadying influences ensure that the team stays locked in on its own continued improvement throughout the season even in the midst of the 82-game schedule.
"This is all we can control and that's all we're going to focus on," Sefolosha said. "We're going to play against a very good team that is playing extremely well right now, so it's going to be a challenge, but if we focus on us and do the things we know we're good at and are successful at doing, we'll be okay."
When the 14-4 Thunder hosts the 17-2 Pacers on Sunday, it will be a matchup of two of the league’s best defensive teams. The Pacers allow its opponents to shoot just 39.5 percent from the field, best in the NBA, while the Thunder holds opponents to the third lowest mark, at just 42.4 percent from the field. The key to the Thunder’s success on the offensive end is its ability to continually get stops and then get out into the open floor.
“For us it's just to play hard, try to take advantage of their misses and run on the fast break,” Sefolosha said.
When the prolific Pacers defense gets back in transition, it is imperative that the Thunder works through its offensive sets and gets proper floor spacing, player movement and ball movement in order to test the Indiana defense. On the opening possession against New Orleans, the Thunder made five full passes and got a wide open shot for Kevin Durant, setting a tone for the entire game. If the Thunder can get everyone involved early in the game, it will open up the offense throughout the night and challenge the Pacers at all five positions.
“It’s just finding the open man and finding a good shot for our team, no matter who shoots the ball” Sefolosha explained. “It’s just finding the open man and creating for others, that's definitely a good recipe for us.”
“We need movement and need spacing,” Sefolosha said. “At the same time there's a thin line being buried in the corner and at the same time staying engaged and cutting. we have to be able to do both and read the game.”
In the Notes:
- The Thunder went 2-0 against the Pacers last season, and overall is 5-4 against New Orleans.
- The Thunder is 7-0 when racking up the same number or more assists than its opponent.
- The Thunder is 10-3 this season in games after a win.
6:00 p.m. CT. TV – Fox Sports Oklahoma, Radio – 98.1 FM The Sports Animal, Thunder Radio Network