OKC vs. GSW Game Preview – Energy and Urgency on Defense

Timing, precision and quickness are all crucial elements to the Thunder’s defense, and tonight against the Golden State Warriors all three will be tested.

Breakdowns during an NBA happen to every team in the league, but the Thunder wants to limit those moments where an opponent finds himself wide open on the perimeter for a three-pointer. Coming into this game, the Warriors are shooting 43.7 percent from the three point line, but Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club is allowing opponents to shoot just 34.7 percent from behind the stripe.

The key to the Thunder’s defensive effort tonight will be its ability to stop the Warriors from getting the ball into the lane, and then also being aware of Golden State’s shooters in order to close out and contest shots.

“The energy has to be on point to be able to close out the paint, which we want to do every game and then come back and contest those three-point shooters and take them off the line,” guard Thabo Sefolosha said.

“Most importantly we have to stop the three-point line and those dribble up threes and those wide open shots that they’re getting,” forward Kevin Durant explained. “Then that dribble penetration where they draw and kick is big for them.”

If the Thunder can accomplish its goals on the defensive end, it will come away with forced turnover and defensive rebounds, which are conducive to starting early offense to get fast break points. Each night, the Thunder wants to play out in space, using its speed, athleticism and length to create high percentage scoring chances, and if it’s not there, then pull back out and start its half court sets.

“Against any team, we’re good if we play defense, get a stop and run out in transition,” Durant said. “When we run our offense and everybody is touching it and everybody is moving, we get ball movement and player movement, we find shots.”

With dynamic playmakers like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Thunder has a formidable one-two punch of players who can create shots for themselves and others. With teammates moving off the ball and ready at all times to receive a pass, everyone in the offense is able to get involved. As the Thunder’s attack has evolved thus far early in the year, a third man has emerged to aid with the ball-handling and playmaking duties to put himself and others in positions to score. That player has been third-year point guard Reggie Jackson.

“Reggie was great last game in the pick-and-roll,” Durant said. “I think we’re going to continue to go with that. He’s making great decisions. His pace is great.”

In the Notes:

- The Thunder is 0-1 against the Warriors this season, and overall is 13-6 against Golden State.

- The Thunder is 6-1 this season when its bench outscores the opponent’s bench.

- The Thunder is 5-0 when it records more or the same number of assists as its opponent.

Broadcast Info:

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