A Rematch Against the Pacers
Date: Dec. 4, 2019
Tip-Off Time: 7 p.m. CT
Television: Fox Sports Oklahoma
Radio: 98.1 FM WWLS the Sports Animal and the Thunder Radio Network
Thunder StatusComing off a two-day game break, the Thunder returns to action against a familiar foe in the Pacers in the first game of a two-game home stand. Since last facing Indiana in mid-November, the Thunder has gone 4-4 including, most recently, two back-to-back victories over the Pelicans. In those victories, the Thunder landed punches out of the gate led by Steven Adams who averaged 8.0 points in the first quarter the past two games.
“I think getting off to a good start is important but … once you’re playing, regardless of what’s happening we’ve got to play all four quarters,” said Thunder head coach Billy Donovan. “I think every team wants to get off to a good start, but even if you get off to a good start you’ve got to sustain it.”
Big production from the bench has also played a major factor for the Thunder as of late. Leading the charge was Dennis Schröder who is fourth in the league in points off the bench. Abdel Nader has also come up big during his extended minutes for the Thunder. He averaged 21.0 points in a two game stretch against the Trail Blazers and the Pelicans.
Opponent BreakdownFor the second and final time this season, the Pacers face off against Oklahoma City, this time in Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Thunder will once again have to face the balanced attack of the Pacers offense lead by Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis who average 19.0 and 18.0 points per game, respectively.
In their last game on Monday against the Grizzlies, seven Pacers scored in double figures and the team shot 50 percent from the field and 42 percent from behind the arc. Ball movement for the Pacers opens the door for high-efficiency shots leading to higher shooting percentages. The team currently sits at fifth in the league in field goal percentage at 47.3 percent.
“Defensively, we’ve got to—without fouling—try to be as physical as we can and getting ourselves in good position and good areas of the floor to contest a little bit better,” Donovan said.
Matchup FocusDomantas Sabonis averages a double-double for the Pacers with 18.4 points and 13.1 rebounds per game. In the Thunder’s last matchup against the Pacers, it was Steven Adams who checked Sabonis. Now with Pacers’ center Myles Turner back in the starting lineup, Sabonis has the flexibility to play inside and out on both ends of the floor making the 6-foot-11 power forward a matchup puzzle for the Thunder.
“They’ve got a lot of length, size and athleticism,” Donovan said. “They can play Sabonis and Turner together. They can kind of split those guys, so they’ve got a lot of flexibility in their front court where maybe they didn’t have as much depth. They obviously, with Turner back, have a lot more depth.”
Stat to WatchMid-range points: The Pacers rank second the league in percentage of points from the mid-range with 15.6 percent of their points coming from the space between the paint and the 3-point line. The Thunder has had plenty of practice against teams who thrive in the mid-range. In fact, they have faced all of the teams in the top five of that category. The key for the Thunder will be not allowing wide-open looks from the mid-range from guys like T.J. Warren who took advantage in that area when the Thunder last faced the Pacers.
“I think the contested-ness matters,” Donovan contestedness. “They’re a really good mid-range shooting team so we have to respect that so we’ve got to contest those shots.”
Thunder TrendOver the past four games, the Thunder bench has averaged just over 46.0 points per game. Confident performances from Schröder, Nader and Nerlens Noel have propelled the Thunder ahead in its past two games. Away from the basketball, players like Deonte Burton have contributed in a major way by snagging clutch rebounds and playing solid defense when the game is on the line in the fourth quarter.
Thunder News and NotesThunder guard, Andre Roberson will continue his rehab away from the team. After rupturing his patellar tendon in January of 2018, Roberson has not been able to return fully to play.