A Rematch in Sacramento for Final Road Game of the Season
Date: Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Tip-Off Time: 9 p.m. CT
Television: Bally Sports Oklahoma
Radio: 98.1 FM WWLS the Sports Animal and the Thunder Radio Network
Only one game remains for the Thunder on its final road trip of the season and it comes against a very familiar foe in the Sacramento Kings. Other than facing off against them just 48 hours prior, Tuesday’s matchup will also mark the third meeting in a matter of eight days between these two teams which means the Thunder will have plenty of fresh film to go over before the final matchup.
The last time these two teams met on Sunday, the Thunder’s balanced offensive attack finished with six players in double figures for the 26th time this season. Darius Bazley led the way offensively with 18 points including a 2-for-3 performance from deep, but it was the Thunder’s newest members such as Gabriel Deck, Josh Hall, Charlie Brown Jr. and Jaylen Hoard who benefitted the most from the minutes they received on Sunday.
Specifically Hoard, the Thunder’s two-way forward recorded a career high 16 points on Sunday in 22 minutes of game time. The performance marked his second straight game logging 20-plus points and in both games, he either set or tied a career high in scoring.
“Honestly, I’m really grateful for the opportunities because a couple of games prior, I wasn’t really in the rotation but these past couple of games I’ve been getting some minutes and I’m just trying to take advantage of them,” said Hoard.
The Thunder’s balanced offense thrived on its ball movement that was headlined by the dishing efforts of Aleksej Pokuševski. After generating the Thunder’s first eight points of the game via assists, the 7-foot rookie finished the game tying his career high with five assists as the Thunder doled out 23 as a unit.
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On Sunday, it was the Kings’ 3-point shooting that headlined its offensive attack. For the night, Sacramento shot 44 percent from deep on the way to 16 made triples and eight different players scoring in double figures for the first time this season.
Playing without its leading scorer in De’Aaron Fox and the veteran contributions of Harrison Barnes, the Kings have received a major boost from its supporting cast. Delon Wright, who has started in Sacramento’s last four contests has averaged 14 points in both contests with OKC this year after posting a season average of 10.2 points. Similarly, Maurice Harkless who averages just seven points per game this season, posted 18 points on Sunday to go alongside 11 in the first meeting.
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Keep an eye on the battle under the rim between Richaun Holmes and the Thunder’s big man Moses Brown. Brown specifically has been a menace on the offensive glass since the All-Star break as he is averaging 4.1 offensive boards per game which ranks third in the league. The 7-footer’s activity at the basket has led to 4.4 second chance points each night which ranks fourth in the league.
In the two meetings against Sacramento, Brown has grabbed a total of 11 offensive boards. Expect Sacramento, who gives up the third-most offensive rebounds per night, to dedicate multiple bodies to the Thunder’s big man on the glass which may open up opportunities for the Thunder’s wings and guards to swoop in for loose change.
Stat to Watch
Thunder Rookie Threes – The Thunder’s first-year players are on the verge of a Thunder record as they are just one made 3-pointer away from tying the most 3-pointers by any rookie class in OKC history. The contingent of Théo Maledon, Aleksej Pokuševski, Josh Hall and Gabriel Deck have combined for 156 triples this season.
Maledon leads the charge as he has already gained the title for the most 3-pointers made by a rookie in Thunder history with 102 so far this season. Both Maledon and Pokuševski cashed in on a pair of 3-pointers each in Sunday’s matchup against Sacramento.
One area where the Thunder has consistently had an edge over Sacramento in both previous matchups was at the free throw line. On Sunday. The Thunder finished +5 in free throw line attempts over the Kings which is a trend that the Thunder has benefitted from over the last 10 games. During that time span, OKC has attempted more free throws that its opponent nine times while averaging a +4.5 free throw attempt differential.