Carrying Preseason Momentum Back to Chesapeake
By Paris Lawson | Digital Content Reporter | email@example.com
With one preseason game officially under its belt, the Thunder moves forward in its preseason march back at home in a matchup against the NBL’s New Zealand Breakers on Thursday.
Tuesday’s exhibition against Dallas gave the Thunder its initial look at what stuck from the first week of training camp. A new offensive style led to high quality shots from the very beginning of the game resulting in a 50% clip from three and 53.2% from the field, something that the group intends to bring into Thursday’s game.
“I like how we played with the ball together – the pace of the ball moving around the offense, getting open shots. I feel like we did really good last night,” said Thunder forward, Terrance Ferguson.
The Thunder will face Sky Sports New Zealand Breakers, a team out of Auckland in the National Basketball League. International matchups present a little differently than typical NBA matchups during preseason. While Dallas elected not to play their NBA Rookie of the Year in Luka Doncic, the Thunder might face a full-force New Zealand team including projected 2020 NBA draft lottery pick in R.J. Hampton.
“My guess would be that they would play their core group of guys. Dallas obviously sat Doncic and (Kristaps) Porzingis and then in the third quarter they basically put five guards out there,” said Head Coach Billy Donovan. “My guess is that we probably wouldn’t see a lineup like that (Thursday).”
Furthermore, after allowing 50 three-point attempts on Tuesday, Coach Donovan also noted that eliminating easy looks behind the arc will be a key focus especially going up against a New Zealand team who will look to take advantage behind the arc.
Guarding the three-point line and limiting second chance points – small and correctable compared to the grander picture of playing together and generating consistent high-quality shots on offense which was a theme for the Thunder throughout training camp.
“Well it’s good is that we actually had some carry over. That was promising to see,” said Steven Adams on what he saw after watching Tuesday’s game film.
“It’s very different, the perspectives what you’re seeing in the game and the bird’s eye view. It was good to see some carry over from training camp. Training the right way, but it’s just a baseline now, we’ve got to progress at some things we need to work at.”
Steven Adams is one of three New Zealand connections on the Thunder roster. Adams was born and raised in Rotorua, New Zealand and moved to the United States in 2012 to play for the University of Pittsburgh. In turn, he joked that he basically knows everyone on the roster. Terrance Ferguson spent a year in the NBL playing for the Adelaide 36ers for the 2016-17 season and forgoing his collegiate career to play abroad. Two-way guard, Devon Hall also gained NBL experience after spending last season with the Cairns Taipans last year. Their international familiarity will play a big role against a style of play and players that the rest of the roster hasn’t seen.
At the end of the day, the key will be to continue to build on the fundamentals being built every day during training camp. Coach Donovan often referenced how, with the lack of film and scout this early in the season, his team will have to rely on basic principles and fundamentals during exhibition games. The team accomplished this on Tuesday and looks to continue building on Thursday in front of an eager home crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Thursday’s exhibition will be streamed on okcthunder.com and the Thunder Mobile App. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. CT.
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