The Oklahoma City Thunder will be looking to pick up their first win of the season when they play the Clippers tonight at the Stables Center. Although both teams dropped their openers, they both learned a lot about themselves.
For the Clippers it was improved bench play. Led by Boban Marjanovic (18 points in 18 minutes), LA’s bench produced 49 points in the opener. That was a sight for sore eyes to a fanbase that has seen the bench struggle over the past several seasons.
Reminder: Boban Marjanovic does not need to jump for his dunks pic.twitter.com/9jqFHAbTMw
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) October 18, 2018
For Oklahoma City it was a renewed effort in playing defensive basketball and starting off the third quarter strong. The Thunder held Golden State to 26.9% shooting from long-range and forced the defending world champs into 21 turnovers. Even more important, OKC’s most explosive quarter was the third in which they came out of the locker room to produce 32 points.
“We’re more than capable of being a top defensive team in the league with what we have right now.” – Jerami Grant
Here are three players from each team to keep an eye on tonight.
SF Paul George (27 PPG/2 RPG/5 APG/) – In the continued absence of Russell Westbrook the responsibility for establishing defensive intensity falls on George. He’ll also have to carry the weight of offensive production.
PG Dennis Schröder (21 PPG/8 RPG/6 APG) – Another benefactor of the Westbrook injury, Schröder will be making his second consecutive start at point guard. He was impressive in the opener and will look to keep the offense flowing. His six assists were a team high on Tuesday night, which should be expected again tonight.
C Steven Adams (17 PPG/11 RPG) – You can’t really place a value on OKC’s big man. He’s the enforcer on the defensive end of the floor and deceptively good on the offensive end. The DeAndre Jordan era is over in L.A. which means the Thunder should own the glass tonight.
PF Tobias Harris (19 PPG/10 RPG/1 APG) – Arriving from Detroit in the Blake Griffin trade, the expectation is for Harris to provide the same qualities on the floor that Griffin once did. The LA offense will move through him quite a bit, and he’s an inside/outside scorer who played 41 minutes in the opener.
SF Danilo Gallinari (16 PPG/8 RPG/1 APG) – The former New York first round pick shot 57% (4-of-7) from three-point range in Wednesday night’s season opener. He’s another inside/outside scorer for the Clippers who should draw a lot of defensive attention.
SG Lou Williams (14 PPG/1 RPG/5 APG) – It isn’t uncommon for Willams to be one of the top scorers on the team coming off the bench. He’s the offensive charge for the LA reserves and the entire purpose of acquiring him last season was to provide the type of spark that Jamal Crawford was once so famous for. That’s why he was last season’s Sixth Man of the Year winner, and it’s why he’ll be in the running again this season.