GAME PREVIEW

Paris Lawson

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



Thunder Rematch Against Warriors at Chesapeake Arena

Date: Nov. 9, 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 Status

The Thunder return to Chesapeake Energy Arena after facing the Spurs in the hostile environment of the AT&T Center on Thursday in San Antonio. Despite shooting 52.5% from the field and 47.6% from the 30-point line, the Thunder fell to the Spurs 121-112 behind a headlining 39-point performance from Spurs big-man, LeMarcus Aldridge.

The Thunder stuck to its game plan on the defensive end by forcing the Spurs to take tough non-paint twos. The only problem, those twos were falling for the Spurs who finished the game shooting 17 of 39 from the midrange. Even then, the Thunder was able to hang in tight with a one-point advantage going into halftime.

The Spurs gained the advantage on the offensive end in the 3rd quarter by outscoring the Thunder 36-27 which gave Spurs the edge they needed to take control of the game.

“I think the biggest challenge was I thought we gave him too many comfortable shots early which enabled him to get going,” said Thunder head coach Billy Donovan. “And I always say this about great scorers, if we allow them to get into a rhythm, they’re able to make more difficult shots than most players when they get going. I think it was just a byproduct there late, some of the tough ones he made was the fact that we could have been better getting out there and contesting them and putting him under duress.”

While the midrange game played a major factor in Thursday’s game, the Thunder proved that it has the ability to stick to and execute a defensive game plan to put opponents in a tough position. Tailoring its defensive schemes to its opponent with total buy in and focus throughout the entire rotation.

“We felt exceptionally well with how our defense was coming along and still is,” said Thunder center Nerlens Noel. “So, I know we have time to continue to get better. We’re setting schemes, playing against other players with skill sets, so I think it’s only going to continue to grow, and we just communicate. It’s a veteran team with some young guys that bring them along, and make it easy for everybody.

Danilo Gallinari led the Thunder offense with 27 points and shooting 5 of 7 from behind the arc. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander chipped in 21 of his own on 9 of 18 from the field.


Watch: Thunder Talk - Disruptive Defensively



Opponent Breakdown

The Warriors wrap up their three-game road trip in Oklahoma City after playing the Rockets and the Timberwolves. The new-look Warriors that the Thunder faced on October 27th, look even more different coming into Saturday’s rematch. Since the Thunder last faced the Warriors, they have encountered a few more injuries within their starting lineup and will play without veterans Steph Curry (hand) and Draymond Green (finger).

This leaves players like Alec Burks who tallied 28 points and 8 rebounds against Houston on Wednesday. Eric Paschall and Glen Robinson III also serves as integral keys to the Golden State cog as they chipped in 19 and 15 points respectively on Wednesday. Leading the Golden State offense is fourth-year guard D'Angelo Russell who scored a career-high 52 points on Friday in their loss to the Timberwolves.

Even after a 28-point victory nearly two weeks ago and without Curry or Green in the lineup going into Saturday, the Thunder will still need to execute at a high level to corral the young Warrior roster.

“Teams change. It’s just kind of the way the NBA is, the way things are. I think Steve’s got a style, a philosophy and a belief that is obviously really, really good,” said Coach Donovan. “When you’re dealing with young players, and we’re dealing with them too, there’s a trying to help those guys get up to speed and get in and play well. But they’ll be better because of the amount of minutes they’re getting, just like some of our young guys are going to be better because of the amount of minutes they’re playing.” Donovan said.

“It’s the NBA, you never underestimate any team, regardless of how the first meeting went,” said Noel. “So, we’re coming in, looking to bounce back and get back to where we were headed, in the right direction.”


Matchup Focus

The new-era Warriors tout an even younger lineup after a few injuries took veterans Klay Thompson, Steph Curry and Draymond Green out of the rotation. Look for a youthful roster starring rookie forward Eric Paschall and rookie guards Jordan Poole and Ky Bowman.

The youth of the Warriors matched with the veteran presence of Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari and Steven Adams will be an interesting one to watch.


Stat to Watch

The Thunder and the Spurs both tallied 13 turnovers on Thursday. The difference was the points scored off of those turnovers. San Antonio ha 18 points off of the Thunder’s turnovers while the Thunder only had 6. Keep an eye out for a Thunder team that is focused on taking care of the ball and limiting points off turnovers.


Thunder Trend

The Thunder offense has found some momentum in the past few games. Thanks to sharp ball movement and players moving without the ball, the Thunder’s offense has found some rhythm as of late. A telltale sign of increased ball movement – 7 of the 8 players who played over a minute on Saturday, tallied at least one assist.


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