GAME PREVIEW


Paris Lawson



Thunder Closes Out Homestand with Philly

Date: Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021

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

OKC will look to wrap up its homestand on a high note before jetting off to the West Coast for its second five-game road trip of the month.

In its most recent matchup, the Thunder added to OKC record books with a 22-point come-from-behind, overtime victory over the Bulls on Friday. In that game, the squad turned around a mediocre first half effort and responded with a dominant third quarter rally led by Lu Dort and his career-high six steals to go along with 21 points. In the fourth quarter, it was Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who made headlines with his strong, crafty finishes at the rim on the way to a career-high 33-point game.

The Thunder had multiple players step up in the win including Isaiah Roby who stepped into the starting lineup and recorded his third double-digit scoring performance as a starter with 14 points. Off the bench, it was Kenrich Williams who led the way with 14 points as well going a perfect 6-of-6 from the field and logging critical, clutch-time minutes for the Thunder in overtime.

“It shows that you know we got a lot of guys that love to compete,” said Roby. “There's going to be ups and downs, there's gonna be bumps in the road because a lot of us are still finding out how to compete at this level but I was really, really excited, really proud of our team [on Friday].”

“I give everybody credit [on Friday], whether they said something verbally, or did it through example or whether they just took the cues and tried to course correct their own behavior, that was a team effort and we all played a different role in it,” said Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault.

Opponent Breakdown

The 76ers enter Chesapeake Energy Arena on the second night of a back-to-back after facing Memphis on Saturday. Playing without several of its rotation players, including leading scorer Joel Embiid (knee), Philadelphia has relied on its deep rotation of players in its most recent games.

Leading the charge offensively is Tobias Harris who is averaging 18.9 points per game while shooting 45.1 percent from the 3-point line so far this season. Adding to the offensive firepower is 6-foot-9 guard Ben Simmons who is one of six 76ers to average double-digit scoring but is also second among his teammates in rebounds per game.

Defensively, Philadelphia ranks fourth among the league in defensive rating (106.0) and first in blocks per game. The group causes opponents problems with its size and physicality on the defensive end and gets considerable contributions from players like Matisse Thybulle who snatched away four steals in the 76ers win over Miami on Tuesday and is one of six Philadelphia players averaging at least one steal per game.

Matchup Focus

Shake Milton leads the 76ers reserves with 15.8 points per game and has been producing considerable numbers as of late after recording two consecutive games of 20-plus point performances.

Keep an eye on how the second unit, led by Hamidou Diallo matches the energy of Philly’s reserves. Diallo has been a consistent energy boost for the Thunder off the bench averaging 11.3 points per game and is tied for the ninth-most total points by any player off the bench in the league this season.

Stat to Watch

Turnovers – In its last game, the Thunder earned 33 points after forcing 24 Chicago turnovers. Once again, the Thunder will face a team who turns the ball over at one of the highest rates in the league with an average of around 16 per contest. The Thunder took advantage in its last matchup with the help of Luguentz Dort who snatched a career-high six steals.

Meanwhile, the Thunder will be tested on the offensive end to take care of the ball against a strong defensive team like Philly who sits in the top third of the league in terms of how often opponents turn the ball over against them.

Thunder Trend

With its win on Friday, the Thunder notched the third win this season after losing a game by 20 or more points. The culture of resiliency is one that is deeply embedded within the Thunder organization and was on full display as the Thunder rallied back from 22-points down against the Bulls. The win also tied for the fifth-largest comeback win in Thunder history.

“I thought our guys showed great resilience and competitive spirit,” said Daigneault. “It's something that we kind of associate with our logo and take pride in and that we feel, collectively, that we have to live up to when we put the uniform on and last night was a great example of that. Even if we didn't come back and win the game.”

Tags

Twitter

OKC THUNDER5 min 51 sec ago

Lu for 42. The 48 | 𝐓𝐡𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫 𝐯. 𝐉𝐚𝐳𝐳 https://t.co/wCxZJ8RSYO

OKC THUNDER10 hours 38 min ago

Keep rising @luthebeast 📊 Career-high 42 points Career-high 7 3PM https://t.co/qVmc5S6PX0

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