Oklahoma City head coach Billy Donovan announced on Friday afternoon that the Thunder would be without small forward Paul George for tonight’s game against the Phoenix Suns.
George is coming off winning Western Conference Player of the Week honors and is averaging 31.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.2 steals per game this month, including 50.6 percent shooting, 45.5 percent from 3-point range and 85.9 percent from the line. However, Donovan feels like tonight is a perfect time for the MVP candidate to rest what has apparently been a lingering right quad contusion.
“It’s gotten to a point now where he’s just managing it,” Donovan said. “I think the medical staff and him, sitting down and talking, felt like this was a game that they probably needed to let this heal a little bit.”
The absence of George means more shots to go around for Thunder players. Dennis Schroder is most likely going to draw a start and Russell Westbrook will undoubtedly be looked upon to produce the bulk of the scoring. Don’t overlook Steven Adams though.
Having a terrific December himself, Adams was already set to have a big game against the Suns but now he may have a monster night if the Thunder look to him for extra shots. Phoenix is next to last in the NBA at defending the center position and Adams is having possibly the best season of his career.
Opponents are averaging 26.10 points and 19.12 rebounds per game, from the center position, against the Suns. Adams is third on the team in scoring with 16.1 points per game. He’s also grabbing 9.9 rebounds per contest which is the second most on the squad. Anything less than a double-double from the big man tonight would be a huge disappointment and season-high numbers wouldn’t be shocking.