WHAT: The Nets 7-game road trip begins tonight against the Thunder, who are really, really good. As Brooklyn fights for a playoff spot, each game - each win - becomes as big as the next.
WHERE: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
WHEN: 7:00 p.m. EST
HOW: ESPN, YES, FSOK; NBA League Pass
THE STORY: Game Preview
The Thunder are second in the league in rebounding, led by Russell Westbrook, Steven Adams, and Paul George. It’s rare we see a team so good at rebounding whose leading rebounder is their point guard and whose third leading rebounder is a wing, but that’s the Thunder. They’re constructed in an interesting way, not being necessarily deep at any one position but having options everywhere. Guys like Dennis Schroeder, Nerlens Noel, Markieff Morris, and Jerami Grant are all important role players for the Thunder. They can beat you with their stars or they can beat you with their role players. Usually it’s the stars, but you gotta watch out for those wings.
It cannot be stressed enough how much I, and a lot of you guys, love this Nets team. It seemed important to mention this ahead of an ESPN broadcast, where some casual fans will be catching a glimpse into the bench dancing and the DLo passes and the LeVert shimmies to the rim and the Joe Harris knock down threes and the Jarrett Allen blocks. It’s been the most fun Nets season I can ever remember, period. It all feels organic and loose and most importantly, earned. We all sat through those hopeless teams, with no draft picks and no talent to speak of, and now we get to see the Phoenix rise from the ashes. Hope Brooklyn can come out of OKC with a win and show everyone just how good they can be.
For more on the Thunder, check out: Welcome to Loud City
All eyes will be on George again, but for a different reason. Despite playing at a high level overall, he’s clearly bothered by his lingering shoulder injury, as he has scaled back his offense significantly. The Thunder were able to generate just enough offense against the Jazz, but tonight may be a different story against the faster paced Nets. Russell Westbrook will be challenged to find the right mix of pace and patience to make sure his team looks for good shots, particularly as they have struggled from three for the past few weeks.
In addition, Dennis Schroder will be called upon to balance the offense, even as he seems to run hot or cold. But the Nets are deep and balanced, and the Thunder cannot withstand unevenness in their attack.