Tip-Off: 7 PM CDT
Location: Chesapeake Energy Arena (Oklahoma City, OK)
Radio: The Sports Animal
Twitter: Follow @TheThunderGuys for live-tweets during the game
Player to Watch
F Dario Saric is the rookie sensation out of Croatia, and while his season averages are not all that impressive, his numbers since the All-Star Break have put him into the conversation for NBA Rookie of the Year. In the 14 games since the break, Saric is averaging 19.5 points while shooting 46.2% from the field, 31.3% from three, and 78.0% from the free throw line, to go along with 7.9 rebounds and 4.2 assists. The 76ers are 5-9 in that time period, but not for lack of trying on Dario’s part. In his first NBA game ever, Saric played the Thunder in Philadelphia, and he shot a poor 2/12 (16.7%) from the field for 5 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists in 27 minutes. Saric has grown a lot since then, however, so he could be who the 76ers look toward to make an impact tonight.
Keys to the Game
- Get to the Free Throw Line: The 76ers commit 22 fouls a game, 3rd-highest in the NBA. Making only 74.3% of their free throw attempts, the Thunder is not particularly accurate from the charity stripe as a team, but they get to the line 26 times a game, more than any other team except the Houston Rockets. Russell Westbrook averages almost 11 free throw attempts on his own, so if he can get to the free throw line, he could pick up some easy points for the team.
- Run the Fast Break: Oklahoma City loves to run in transition, primarily because Russell Westbrook is so adept at getting defense rebounds and running the court. Philadelphia, on the other hand, is terrible at defending in transition, allowing opponents to score an average of 15.7 fast break points per game (28th in the NBA). In the season-opener against Philadelphia, the Thunder outscored the 76ers 23-9 in fast break points, and they will likely push to do the same thing tonight.
- Create Chaos on Defense: Philadelphia turns the ball over a league-high 16.8 times per game, but Oklahoma City is not particularly proficient at forcing teams into mistakes. Thunder opponents average 13.8 turnovers per game, which is 18th in the NBA, but if Oklahoma City is able to apply pressure to the ball, they could cause issues for the young 76ers, which could lead to be even more opportunities for the Thunder to get out and run in transition and turn defense into offense.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.