If the Thunder are going to break out of their two-game road losing streak tonight then they’re going to have to do something different.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a team that’s more athletic than Oklahoma City. In losses to Chicago and New Orleans OKC held an advantage in fast break points and blocked six shots in each game.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a team that works harder under the basket than Oklahoma City. The Thunder scored 56 points in the paint against the Bulls and 48 against the Pelicans, while also grabbing a total of 110 rebounds between the two games.
What you don’t have to do look very hard to find teams that can out-shoot OKC from the perimeter. The Thunder are only half a percentage point away (35.5%) from being the worst three-point shooting team in the league.
Turnovers have been a bit ridiculous as of late but that’s to be expected when you push the pace as much as Oklahoma City does. Most fans can live with turnovers because the reward of the fast pace is worth it. Missing thirty three-point shots is something entirely different.
When you’re the worst in the business at something then why keep pushing the issue? The Thunder were 10-of-28 in a two-point loss at Chicago and 13-of-43 in their four-point loss in the Big Easy.
Now, enter the Nuggets. Much like Chicago and New Orleans, Denver finds themselves down a few key players (PF Paul Millsap, PF Michael Porter Jr, SG Will Barton). Also, much like the Bulls and Pelicans, they are going to try to do what they can to force everything outside and not inside.
What Denver wants is mid to long-range jumpers from Oklahoma City. What the Thunder must do is attack the basket…because that’s what they’re best at.
The Nuggets are 12th in the NBA at defending the paint, allowing 47.3 points per game. Oklahoma City is sixth in the league at scoring points in the paint with a pace of 52.4 points per game. This game needs to be an absolute battle down low. What it absolutely doesn’t need to be is a three-point shooting contest.