INTEGRIS Game Day Report: Thunder at Chicago Bulls – Jan. 9, 2017
By Nick Gallo | Thunder Basketball Writer | firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tip-off: 7:00 p.m. CT
- Television: Fox Sports Oklahoma
- Radio: WWLS the Sports Animal and the Thunder Radio Network
CHICAGO – The Chicago Bulls’ dynamic forward Jimmy Butler will be a game time decision tonight, but regardless of whether he suits up or not, the Thunder will have its hands full tonight as it gears up for battle in the Windy City.
Butler is one of Chicago’s wing scorers along with Dwyane Wade who can go off for 25 points on any night. If he’s able to go tonight, it’ll be a combination of Andre Roberson and Jerami Grant who will likely square off against him defensively. Roberson in particular has shown a knack for thwarting some of the NBA’s best wing scorers this year.
“Andre has great concentration and great focus,” Donovan explained. “It’s just a matter of Andre trying to make it as challenging and difficult as possible.”
So far this season, however, Butler has four games of 40-or-more points, second only to Russell Westbrook, and is averaging 24.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game.
“You just do the best job you can trying to make them take the kind of shots that you feel comfortable living with,” Donovan said. “That’s why he’s an elite player because he has the ability to make a variety of different shots. He shoots it from three, he can play with his back to the basket with post ups, he can play at the elbow in isos and put the ball on the floor and create for himself.”
“You don’t want to put yourself in a situation where you’re playing good defense and then you foul him and give him free throws,” Donovan added. “You’re not going to prevent him from shooting or getting off a shot and you’re not going to have control over whether the ball goes in and out of the basket. What you can do is the very best job you can defending in certain areas of the floor and do the best you can to try to make as difficult of a shot as you can create for him.”
Donovan on Bulls Matchup:
Even if Butler doesn’t suit up, this is a Bulls squad that pounds teams on the offensive glass – racking up 13.8 offensive rebounds per game, 1.4 more than the second place Denver Nuggets.
“They’re a terrific offensive rebounding team,” Donovan said. “They’re able to post the ball and they’re very good defensively. This is a very good team who is playing very well now.”
“It’s key, they’re huge,” Westbrook noted of the Thunder’s defensive rebounds. “They do a good job of getting put-backs on the glass. Getting rebounds and getting out is going to be good for us.”
On the offensive end the Thunder just wants to keep moving the ball with pace and force both in the paint and on the perimeter. A new wrinkle will be including second year point guard Cameron Payne into the mix. It will take him some time to get into a flow on the defensive end and even if he knocks down some shots, there will be an assimilation process on the offensive end as he finds his rhythm with the rest of his teammates. It’s undeniable though that Payne possesses the talent and the attitude to be quite a factor moving forward for this squad.
“It’s a process,” Westbrook said. “He’s only played one game so we have to constantly keep integrating him, but he did a good job of paying attention when he was out on the side to understand some of the things we’ve been doing.”
Shootaround: Russell Westbrook