INTEGRIS Game Day Report: Thunder at Denver Nuggets – Oct. 10, 2017
- Tip-off: 8:00 p.m. CT
- Television: Fox Sports Oklahoma
- Radio: WWLS the Sports Animal and the Thunder Radio Network
DENVER – A week ago, the Thunder went up against a Houston Rockets team that launched 55 three-pointers. Three days later, a New Orleans Pelicans team with two of the NBA’s very best post presences in Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. Then, on Sunday afternoon, the Thunder flew in blind to a scrappy Melbourne United team of Australia’s NBL. Tonight, they’ll have the Denver Nuggets, a balanced group that will present its own unique set of challenges.
1-on-1: Jerami Grant
For the limited four game NBA preseason, the Thunder has gone through quite the gamut of teams, all of which will provide insight into how it can improve prior to Oct. 19 and the start of the regular season. One thing that Head Coach Billy Donovan has learned thus far is that every single game, the Thunder must have their defense in tow.
“The first three games we had the chance to experience some different things,” Donovan noted. “We’re going to need to play defense regardless of the offensive talent on the team.”
As for Denver, the addition of Paul Millsap to pair with Nikola Jokic will give them a combination of two of the best passing big men in the NBA. With Gary Harris and Wilson Chandler, the Nuggets have wing threats who can stretch the floor to go with veteran point guard Jameer Nelson.
Game Day: Coach Donovan
“They’ve added some really good pieces,” Donovan said. “To close out last season and certainly the last few months of the season they were maybe one of the best offensive teams in the league by the numbers.”
Forward Paul George noted that in the most recent test, Melbourne tested the stamina of the Thunder’s defense by attacking deep into the shot clock. Most NBA teams don’t execute all the way into the final five seconds of the clock, so it was a good lesson for the Thunder defense to maintain focus for the entirety of the possession. On offense, the Thunder is still working to build rhythm and flow. That will be a season-long objective.
Game Day: Steven Adams
This final preseason clash will be the next and final opportunity of the preseason to build some chemistry on the floor prior to an eight-day layoff that leads up to the start of the season. The Thunder has and will continue to invest time on the floor in practice on building its habits, but a true test against an external opponent always has its benefits.
“We’re still a work in progress of trying to create and establish an identity on both ends of the floor,” Donovan added.
“We’re still trying to get rhythm. We’re still trying to get timing together,” George said. “All of that is going to come though. That’s what these preseason games are for.”
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Second-year guard Alex Abrines is available to play for the Thunder tonight. Donovan will see how it goes during the game to determine how many minutes he actually plays. Raymond Felton (sprained wrist) and Patrick Patterson (knee) will not play. The Thunder will push their main rotation players into longer minutes tonight, but Donovan isn't certain whether his group will close out the fourth quarter.
Watch: Game Preview