Oklahoma City Thunder Game Previews: November 7 - November 13

After finishing last week with a record of 2-1 and a record of 5-1 overall, the Oklahoma City Thunder head into their third week of the NBA with a four-game home stand. They first face a Miami Heat team that has had a major face lift since the Thunder faced them in the NBA Finals a few season ago with the team losing players like Dwayne Wade and LeBron James in free agency and Chris Bosh to blood clots. They then face the second-best team in the Eastern Conference in the Toronto Raptors and then have a rematch against an LA Clippers squad they saw only a week ago. Finally, former Thunder big man Serge Ibaka returns for his first game back in Oklahoma City since being traded to the Orlando Magic this offseason.

Miami Heat

Monday, 7 November 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Home

The Oklahoma City Thunder (5-1, 3-0 Home) face off against a Miami Heat (2-3, 1-1 Away) that is very different from when the Thunder played the Heat in the NBA Finals years ago. After losing Dwayne Wade to the Chicago Bulls and LeBron James a few seasons ago to the Cleveland Cavaliers in free agency and Chris Bosh to a recurring blood clot problem, the Big Three era of the Miami Heat is officially over; the team is in a full rebuild now and is led by big man Hassan Whiteside and wing Justice Winslow.

On offense look for the main point of attack to be led by both Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo as Miami's starting guards in Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters is not a formidable defensive duo. Miami will more than likely put shutdown wing Justice Winslow on either Westbrook or Oladipo leaving the one not being defended open to attack either Dragic or Waiters. Thunder head coach Billy Donovan will exploit this matchup to help the team on the offensive side of the ball.

On defense is where the Thunder will be really tested against Hassan Whiteside who currently averages 20.0 points, 14.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game. The Thunder have a defensive center of their own in Steven Adams but Whiteside will provide a test to the big kiwi. Russell Westbrook will also have his hands full with Goran Dragic who currently averages 19.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 6.6 assists. The Thunder should be able to win against the Miami Heat if they contain both Whiteside and Dragic.

Projected Starting Lineups:

Oklahoma City Thunder:

  • PG - Russell Westbrook
  • SG - Victor Oladipo
  • SF - Andre Roberson
  • PF - Domantas Sabonis
  • C - Steven Adams
  • Injuries - Cameron Payne (Foot, Out Indefinitely)

Miami Heat

  • PG - Goran Dragic
  • SG - Dion Waiters
  • SF - Justice Winslow
  • PF - Luke Babbitt
  • C - Hassan Whiteside
  • Injuries - Wayne Ellington (Quadriceps, Out Indefinitely), Josh McRoberts (Foot, Questionable), Chris Bosh (Blood Clots, Out Forever)?

Toronto Raptors

Wednesday, 9 November 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Home

The Oklahoma City Thunder (5-1, 3-0 Home) start their second matchup of the week against the Toronto Raptors (4-2, 1-0 Away). The Raptors are the clear second-best team in the Eastern Conference, only behind the defending NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers, and are led by a formidable duo of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry as they both look to carry the Raptors after losing Jonas Valunciunas and Jared Sullinger to injury.

On offense, there will be a battle between Russell Westbrook against Kyle Lowry and Victor Oladipo against DeMar DeRozan. DeRozan alone has averaged a staggering 33.7 points to go along with 4.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists. In Magic Johnson style analysis, whichever back court tandem scores the most will more than likely be on the winning side of the ball. Look for Thunder centers Steven Adams and Enes Kanter to have big games against Toronto as they have to throw rookie Jakob Poeltl into the ring in Valunciunas's absence. The Thunder's bench will also have to step up against Toronto's as they are led by a combination of Cory Joseph, Norman Powell and Patrick Patterson.

As mentioned before the duo of Lowry and DeRozan have been carrying the Raptors as of late and the Thunder will have their hands full against them on the defensive side of the ball. If the Thunder can contain the duo defensively, then the game should be won easily by Oklahoma City.

Projected Starting Lineups:

Oklahoma City Thunder:

  • PG - Russell Westbrook
  • SG - Victor Oladipo
  • SF - Andre Roberson
  • PF - Domantas Sabonis
  • C - Steven Adams
  • Injuries - Cameron Payne (Foot, Out Indefinitely)

Toronto Raptors:

  • PG - Kyle Lowry
  • SG - DeMar DeRozan
  • SF - DeMarre Carroll
  • PF - Pascal Siakam
  • C - Jakob Poeltl
  • Injuries - Jonas Valunciunas (Knee, Day-To-Day), Jared Sullinger (Foot, Out Indefinitely), Delon Wright (Shoulder, Out Indefinitely)

LA Clippers

Friday, 11 November 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Home

Friday night the Oklahoma City Thunder tip off in a quick rematch against the LA Clippers (5-1, 3-0 Away) in the third game of their home stand. Last time out against the Clippers the Thunder walked away victorious with a final score of 85-83. Sloppy play was the biggest problem for both sides and for the Thunder Russell Westbrook was the only player able to break double digits in scoring with 35 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Revenge will be on the mind's of the Clippers as the Thunder are their sole loss in this early season. Look for both teams to clean up their game offensively and have a cleaner game.

On offense, the Thunder will continue to attack with Russell Westbrook who killed the Clippers in his last game out against them. Westbrook must clean up his sloppy play though as he had 10 turnovers against the Clippers in their last matchup. Look for Victor Oladipo to help as well as he shot 3-11 in the Thunder's last game against the LA Clippers. Contributions from Oladipo and other players should help lighten the offensive load being carried by Westbrook.

The defensive side of the ball is where the Thunder will have the most trouble against the LA Clippers. Blake Griffin has evolved his game every year he has been in the NBA, and is a threat as a jump shooter and as the high flying dunker he has always been known as. Rookie big man Domantas Sabonis will have a real test against Griffin and will really have to show his worth as an NBA player. Russell Westbrook also has a major assignment against the Clippers star guard Chris Paul. Paul has the ability to create plays on a whim and can also punish defenses with his ability to move the ball as well. The Thunder's defense will again be tested by a championship caliber contender in the LA Clippers.

Projected Starting Lineups:

Oklahoma City Thunder:

  • PG - Russell Westbrook
  • SG - Victor Oladipo
  • SF - Andre Roberson
  • PF - Domantas Sabonis
  • C - Steven Adams
  • Injuries - Cameron Payne (Foot, Out Indefinitely)

LA Clippers:

  • PG - Chris Paul
  • SG - JJ Redick
  • SF - Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
  • PF - Blake Griffin
  • C - DeAndre Jordan
  • Injuries -  Brice Johnson (Back, Out Indefinitely)

Orlando Magic

Sunday, 13 November 2016 at 07:00 PM ET Home

Finally the Oklahoma City Thunder wrap up their third week of NBA regular season action against the Orlando Magic (3-3, 1-2 Away) in former Oklahoma City Thunder big man Serge Ibaka's return to Oklahoma City.

The Magic have been a rebuilding team the last few seasons but look to make the next step towards the playoffs as they traded for Ibaka, signed former Toronto Raptor and Charlotte Hornet Bismack Biyombo and signed former Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel. All these key additions will really help Orlando on the defensive side of the ball and that defense will be tested against Oklahoma City. Look for Russell Westbrook to have a big game against the Magic and his former teammate as well as Victor Oladipo having a big night against his former team. Also look for Steven Adams to take advantage of the Magic when they do not have Bismack Biyombo on the floor as Magic starting center Nikola Vucevic is a very poor rim protector.

On defense Thunder rookie Domantas Sabonis will have his hands completely full with Serge Ibaka, who will more than likely have revenge on his mind against his former squad. Ibaka has been solid so far for the Orlando Magic with averages of 14.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 0.8 assists. While Steven Adams will have his way on the offensive side of the ball against Nikola Vucevic, on defense he will be tested against the crafty big man who currently averages 12.5 points and 11.5 rebounds a game. The Thunder bigs will be tested defensively against Orlando but as long as they contain them they should walk away with another home win.

Projected Starting Lineups:

Oklahoma City Thunder:

  • PG - Russell Westbrook
  • SG - Victor Oladipo
  • SF - Andre Roberson
  • PF - Domantas Sabonis
  • C - Steven Adams
  • Injuries - Cameron Payne (Foot, Out Indefinitely)

Orlando Magic:

  • PG - Elfrid Payton
  • SG - Evan Fournier
  • SF - Aaron Gordon
  • PF - Serge Ibaka
  • C - Nikola Vucevic
  • Injuries - Jodie Meeks (Foot, Out Indefinitely)

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