GAME PREVIEW


Paris Lawson

By Paris Lawson | Digital Content Reporter | mailbag@okcthunder.com



Thunder Road Trip Revs Up with Pistons

Date: March 4, 2020
Tip-Off Time: 6 p.m. CT
Television: Fox Sports Oklahoma
Radio: 98.1 FM WWLS the Sports Animal and the Thunder Radio Network


Thunder Status

The Thunder enter into its three-game road trip on the second half of its road-home, back-to-back following two tough losses against top teams in the league. Most recently, the Thunder fell to the Clippers 109-94 at Chesapeake Energy Arena after struggling to score against the set defense of a long and athletic LA squad.

“I think these last two games can be really, really valuable in terms of playing against elite teams of how much pace and ball movement we have to play with to generate good shots,” Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said.

In that game, the Thunder brought the Clippers’ lead to within single digits on multiple occasions including midway through the third quarter. However, a string of missed free throws and missed 3-pointers left the door open for the Clippers to bolster its lead. While the Thunder have little time to dwell, it will take the lessons from its two-game skid and course correct accordingly as it begins a three-game road trip.

“The last two games we played the best teams in the league, so now we know what we got to focus on and what we’ve got to do to even play on this level,” Dennis Schröder said. “We just need to try to move on. [Wednesday] we’ve got next game. Try to win that and try to move forward.”

Opponent Breakdown

The Pistons return home to Little Caesars Arena after a four-game, 10-day road trip that ended in a late-game loss to Sacramento on Sunday. In that game the Pistons were bit again with the injury bug, a blight they have dealt with on multiple occasions this season. Derrick Rose, the Pistons leading scorer, left the game early in the first quarter with an ankle sprain. Then in the fourth, Brandon Knight, the second half of the Pistons’ point guard duo, went down with a knee injury and is questionable for Wednesday’s game.

Once again, it will be next man up for Detroit on the perimeter. So far this season, the squad has ranked eighth in the league in 3-point percentage behind the sharp shooting efforts of Svi Mykhailiuk and Tony Snell who both sit in the Top 20 in 3-point percentage. Pistons forward Christian Wood is on a scoring tear of his own with a career-high 12 consecutive games with 10 or more points. On Sunday, Wood recorded a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds.

Matchup Focus

The Pistons rank third in bench scoring this season averaging a franchise-high 46.6 points per game. Meanwhile, the Thunder reserves have outscored opposing benches in 42 of the team’s 61 games. With the Thunder Sixth Man of the Year contender Dennis Schröder headlining its reserves and averaging 18.9 points per game, the battle of the benches will be one to keep an eye on.

Stat to Watch

Three-point percentage – While the Pistons rank eighth in the league in 3-point percentage, the Thunder ranks eighth in opponent 3-point percentage holding its competition on average to a shooting clip of 34 percent. The Thunder 3-point defense will look to employ a similar performance to that of its last game against Detroit when it held the team to a mere 28 percent form downtown.

Thunder Trend

The Thunder defense has historically hummed at a high level against Detroit. All time, the Thunder has held the Pistons to an average of 95 points per game while taking a 17-5 overall record. The last time the two teams met, the Thunder held the Pistons to 101 points, including 28 percent from behind the arc. Look for a similar defensive effort from OKC, who will look to play with an added dose of physicality to limit easy post touches and force only tough, contested shots.

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