GAME PREVIEW


Paris Lawson

By Paris Lawson | Broadcast and Digital Reporter
okcthunder.com



Preview: Thunder at Rockets - 10/22

After opening up its season in Salt Lake City, the Thunder rounds out its first regular season road trip with a tilt in Houston to face the Rockets. The squad will work to take the lessons and experiences it gleaned from its loss to Utah on Wednesday and apply them to its much different challenge in Houston on Friday.


What to Watch

Defending the Break
In its regular season opener, the Thunder demonstrated its defensive discipline by limiting Utah to zero fast break points. Against a Houston team that likes to play fast and get out on the break, expect the Thunder to carry over the trend of defending in transition.

Battle of the Bigs
The Thunder will see a combination of big men from Houston between Christian Wood, Daniel Theis and rookie Alperen Sengun. Keep an eye on how the Thunder utilizes its rotation of big men such as Derrick Favors, Isaiah Roby and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl against the Rocket’s frontline.

Protect the Paint
Paint protection will be key against the Houston’s lineup. In contrast to Utah’s 3-point shooting, the Rockets generate the majority of their looks around the rim via pick and rolls or guards such as rookie Jaylen Green attacking off of ball screens and hunting the paint. In its last game against Minnesota, Houston tallied 58 paint points compared to 50 for the Timberwolves..


Notable

The Thunder and the Rockets are tied for the most active players on their rosters who are 22-years or younger as both squads have seven each. Both teams also added four rookies to their roster this offseason via draft. While OKC has the youngest roster in the league, expect to see a lot of young talent on the floor between these two teams.


Quotable

Coach Daigneault on the positive takeaways from the Utah game
“I thought we really competed for 48. Our effort on the ball, which is what you really have to have, was pretty good. When we created a crowd in the paint against them, we made them make multiple efforts to score against us, which is what we wanted to do. I didn't think they killed us in transition and I thought offensively, we had a lot of really, really good possessions and we really worked into possessions. I thought our guys came out ready to play. I was pleased with a lot of stuff. There was a lot of stuff we can build on and a lot we can improve on as well.”


Scouting Report

The Rockets opened up their season at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday falling 124-106. Forward Christian Wood led Houston in the scoring column with 16 points and nine rebounds. Wood makes up part of Houston’s core of returners that also includes Kevin Porter Jr. and Jae-Sean Tate. During the offseason, the Rockets added four new additions to their roster via the 2021 NBA Draft – all four of which were drafted 24th or higher. All four rookies – Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Usman Garuba and Josh Christopher – logged minutes during the squad’s season opener. Green posted nine points in the starting lineup while Sengun chipped in 11 points, six rebounds and three steals off the bench.

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