Preview: Thunder at Hawks - 11/22
After stops in Milwaukee and Boston, the Thunder concludes its three-game road trip in Atlanta to face the Hawks for the first time this season. Two hard-fought loses against high-caliber Eastern Conference opponents once again proved OKC’s mettle when the going gets tough and provided valuable lessons to carry over into its next test against the Hawks.
What to Watch
Getting Second Chances
Keep an eye on the boards in Atlanta as the Hawks and the Thunder are eighth and ninth respectively in offensive rebounds per game. The Thunder leads the league in rebounds per game so far this season, but it was the offensive glass that made headlines in the Thunder’s game against Boston. The Thunder racked up a season high 25 second chance points on 15 offensive rebounds as eight different players swooped up an offensive board.
Paint-Hunting Point Guards
The league’s two top drivers will go head-to-head on Monday in Trae Young and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. OKC’s fourth-year guard leads the league with 21.9 drives per game, but Young holds the number two spot with 19.9. Both players have also proven their ability to generate offense on their attacks as they both pass the ball on 43 percent of their drives.
Surefire Second Unit
For the second-straight night, the Thunder’s reserves played a massive role in cutting down the team’s 20-plus point deficit. Against Boston, the Thunder bench outscored the Celtics reserves 47-18 while shooting 50 percent from the field and pulling down nine of the Thunder’s season-high 15 offensive rebounds. Thunder rookie Jeremiah Robinson-Earl led the way with 13, guard Ty Jerome chipped in 12 and forward Isaiah Roby added nine.
The Thunder has logged four wins this season coming back from down 10 or more points and over the last two games, the Thunder has put pressure on its opponent in the final frame as the team rallied back from down 20 or more points. As a result, the resilient Thunder now holds the third highest fourth quarter defensive rating in the league (99.7.)
Assistant Coach Dave Bliss on lessons from the Milwaukee-Boston back-to-back…
“We're learning throughout the games, and we're finding the formula throughout the game. I think that's the reason for why you see us playing better in second halves. Guys are doing a great job of taking coaching, communicating with each other and problem solving. As we grow and as we play more games together, we'll be able to do that faster and hopefully be able to translate that into better first halves.”
keep fighting. keep building. pic.twitter.com/yFOrSRFwbc— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) November 21, 2021
While Trae Young leads the Hawks in points per game and ranks 13th in the league in scoring, the All-Star guard also dishes out the second-most assists per game (9.2.) Young is surrounded by capable scorers and in fact, holds the top assist connection in the league as his 54 assists to John Collins marks the most by any dup in the league. This season, the Hawks tout five players outside of Young who average double figure scoring per night and in their most recent game against Charlotte, Atlanta had six players score 15 or more points in the effort.
Monday’s matchup marks the fifth and final game in Atlanta’s successful homestand. So far this season, the Hawks hold the best home winning percentage in the Eastern Conference at 7-1.