Tip-Off: 8 PM CST
Location: Talking Stick Resort Arena (Phoenix, Arizona)
Radio: The Sports Animal
Twitter: Follow @TheThunderGuys for live-tweets during the game
Player to Watch
SG Devin Booker is having an impressive sophomore season as he is one of the few bright spots on this struggling Phoenix squad. The young man out of Kentucky is playing 34.6 minutes per game and averaging 20.8 points while shooting 42.5% from the floor, 37.1% from three, and 82.1% from the free throw line. He is also averaging 3.2 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game. Booker did not shoot well in the first meeting of the season (8/22, 36.4%), but in the second matchup, he led the Suns with 31 points while shooting 11/22 (50%) from the field, including 3/5 (60%) from three, and 6/7 (85.7%) from the free throw line. With the absence of Victor Oladipo, Andre Roberson will likely draw the job of guarding Booker, and stopping him will be key to a Thunder victory.
Keys to the Game
- Take Care of Business: Simply put, the Suns are not a very good team. After a meltdown loss in Portland, the Thunder need to get a win tonight as they tip-off not even 24 hours after their game against the Trail Blazers. Oklahoma City continues to work in new members Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott, and Norris Cole, and things appear to be going well so far. If the Thunder can build a big lead early, that means even more play time for the bench and rest for Russell Westbrook and other starters, which could be crucial as the team finishes out the final portion of the season.
- Control the Transition Game: When Oklahoma City runs the fast break, good things happen. The Thunder ranks 3rd in the NBA with 17.1 fast break points per game, and the Suns are dead last in allowing 16.0 transition points per game. Alternatively, Phoenix is 2nd in transition offense with 19.4 fast break points per game, but Oklahoma City holds opponents to 11.3 fast break points per game. In the first two matchups, the Thunder outscored the Suns in fast break points by an average of 14.5 per game. If Russell Westbrook and the gang can repeat that type of performance, they should be able to come away with an easy win.
- Score in the Paint: Oklahoma City really struggled last night to score in the paint, particularly because Steven Adams could not seem to find a bucket to save his life. Adams has struggled in the last two games, which makes things a lot harder for the Thunder offense to get going early. Oklahoma City is 2nd in the league with 49.4 points in the paint per game, so if Adams and the other Thunder bigs can find success early, that will open the spacing for guys like Alex Abrines and Doug McDermott to get some good looks from deep.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.