Oklahoma City Thunder Game Previews: November 14 - November 20


To get a recap of last week's action for the Oklahoma City Thunder click here.

After finishing their third week of the NBA regular season with a record of one win and three losses and an overall record of 6-4, the Oklahoma City Thunder look to bounce back from a bad week of basketball and maintain their lead in the Northwest Division. The Thunder start off their week in the second game of a back-to-back away in Auburn Hills, Michigan to face Andre Drummond and the Detroit Pistons. They then return back to home to face off against former Oklahoma City Thunder member James Harden and the Houston Rockets. After that on Friday they continue their homestand against the Brooklyn Nets. Finally, they wrap up their home stand and their fourth week of NBA regular season basketball before heading on the road in a game against the Indiana Pacers.

Detroit Pistons

Monday, 14 November 2016 at 07:30 PM ET Away

The Oklahoma City Thunder open up week four of the NBA regular season in game two of a back-to-back on the road against the Detroit Pistons (5-5, 4-0 Home). An Eastern Conference bottom feeder a few seasons ago, Detroit made it back to the playoffs last season only to be swept by the NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. But, emotions are riding high in the greater Motor City area as the team is being molded by head coach and President of Basketball Operations Stan VanGundy and led by a young core of players.

On offense look for Russell Westbrook to once again have a huge night as Detroit will be without starting point guard and former Oklahoma City Thunder guard Reggie Jackson. The current starting point guard for Oklahoma City is Ish Smith and with Smith on the floor the Pistons on average allow 104.5 points a game. Look for Russell Westbrook and his freak athleticism be put to the test against Smith and the Detroit defense. Westbrook and the Thunder will struggle attacking the rim, though, as the Pistons defense is anchored by Andre Drummond, who averages 1.2 blocks per game.

On defense Andre Drummond will also create headaches for Oklahoma City as the Detroit big man averages a staggering 14.9 points and 14.3 rebounds per game as well. Thunder rookie Domantas Sabonis's defense will also be tested against Tobias Harris, Detroit's leading scorer at 16.3 points per game. The Thunder's perimeter defense, a sore spot for them all season, will also be tested as a whole as Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy has surrounded Andre Drummond with plenty of three point marksmen to create a real inside-out threat.

Projected Starting Lineups:

Detroit Pistons:

  • PG - Ish Smith
  • SG - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
  • SF - Marcus Morris
  • PF - Tobias Harris
  • C - Andre Drummond
  • Injuries - Reggie Bullock (Back, Day-to-Day), Reggie Jackson (Knee, Out Indefinitely)

Oklahoma City Thunder:

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

Houston Rockets

Wednesday, 16 November 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Home

After a quick one game road trip the Oklahoma City Thunder return back home to face James Harden and the Houston Rockets (5-4, 4-3 Away). Harden, once a shooting guard, is now a full-time point guard under Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni, and has flourished in the new system with averages of 30.0 points, 13.0 assists and 8.0 rebounds. Offense is going to be the main course on the menu Wednesday night in Oklahoma City and if the Thunder want to walk away victorious they will need to find a way to shut down Harden and the Rockets.

On offense look for every member of the Oklahoma City Thunder to possibly have a big night against the Houston Rockets. Seriously. A major problem with Mike D'Antoni teams is the lack of defense in his stops in Phoenix, New York, Los Angeles and now Houston as the Rockets rank as the 20th best defensive team in the league this season. The biggest beneficiary to Houston's lack of defense will be Russell Westbrook who will try to exploit matchups against James Harden, one of the worst defensive guards in the league.

While James Harden will be a liability on defense for the Rockets, on offense he is the head of a snake that can quickly overwhelm you with a blistering three-point assault, something the Thunder have struggled all season with defending. Players like Harden(30.0 points, 37.3% from 3-point range),Eric Gordon (16.7 points, 40.3% from 3-point range) and Ryan Anderson (13.6 points, 43.9% from 3-point range) will be looking to feast on the Thunder's lack of perimeter defense. If the Thunder want to win against the offense juggernaut of the Rockets they will need to lock-in on defense.

Houston Rockets:

  • PG - James Harden
  • SG - Eric Gordon
  • SF - Trevor Ariza
  • PF - Ryan Anderson
  • C - Clint Capela
  • Injuries - None

Oklahoma City Thunder:

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

Brooklyn Nets

Friday, 18 November 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Home

In their third game of the week the Oklahoma City Thunder continue their home stand against Jeremy Lin and the Brooklyn Nets (4-5, 1-3 Away). Picked by many to be one of the worst teams in the NBA this season, this author included, the Nets have surprised so far this season with close losses against the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks and Charlotte Hornets and quality wins against the Detroit Pistons, a playoff caliber team in the Eastern Conference.

On offense look for any and all members to have another big night against the Brooklyn Nets. Much like Houston, the Nets are not a good defensive team, ranking 22nd overall in the NBA, but this is not due to the system but instead a lack of talent for the Nets.

Also much like Houston the Nets instead pride themselves on the offensive side of the ball and will test the Thunder's defense as a whole. Individually Steven Adams will have a full plate against Brooklyn's leading scorer Brook Lopez, who averages 19.4 points per game. Rookie big man Domantas Sabonis will also have his hands full against Trevor Booker who has averaged a solid 10.2 points and 8.9 rebounds for Brooklyn this season. The Nets also get contributions from Jeremy Lin (15.0 points per game) and Bojan Bogdanovic (13.0 points per game) in the starting unit and from Sean Kilpatrick (15.8 points per game) of the bench. The Thunder's defensive ability will once again be put to the test against the Brooklyn Nets.

Houston Rockets:

  • PG - Jeremy Lin
  • SG - Randy Foye
  • SF - Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
  • PF - Trevor Booker
  • C - Brook Lopez
  • Injuries - Isaiah Whitehead (Concussion, Out Indefinitely), Caris LeVert (Foot, Out Indefinitely)

Oklahoma City Thunder:

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

Indiana Pacers

Sunday, 20 November 2016 at 07:00 PM ET Home

Finally, the Thunder wrap up their fourth week of NBA regular season action at home against the Indiana Pacers (4-6, 0-5 Road). In a head scratching move in the offseason general manager Larry Bird fired former coach Frank Vogel (250-181 with Pacers) due to a lack of offensive pace and scoring ability. He then brought in Nate McMillan, an even bigger head scratcher, as McMillan is notorious for his incredibly slow and methodical pace from his days of coaching the Portland Trailblazers.

In their week four wrap up the Thunder continue the theme of facing bad defensive teams with the Indiana Pacers, a team who ranks 29th in the NBA in total team defense. On offense look for Russell Westbrook to have a huge night against the Pacers as they were burned on defense in recent loses to Kemba Walker (24 points, 10 assists) and the Charlotte Hornets and Isaiah Thomas (23 points) and the Boston Celtics. Steven Adams and Enes Kanter could also have a big night offensively as well as the Pacers also have been torched by Joel "The Process" Embiid (25 points) and the Philadelphia 76ers and Brook Lopez (25 points) and the Brooklyn Nets in losses against both teams.

Despite their poor record and defensive ability, the Pacers are still a formidable offensive team, currently ranked sixth overall in the NBA. This is spearheaded by Paul George, who currently averages 21.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Alongside George the Pacers also see contributions from Myles Turner (15.2 points, 7.0 rebounds) and Jeff Teague (14.2 points, 2.8 rebounds, 6.4 assists) in the starting lineup and from CJ Miles (14.3 points, 3.2 rebounds) off the bench. The balanced scoring from the starting unit and the bench unit for the Pacers has paced them to four wins this season and the Thunder should not underestimate them unless they will become Indiana's next win on the season.

Indiana Pacers:

  • PG - Jeff Teague
  • SG - Monta Ellis
  • SF - Paul George
  • PF - Thaddeus Young
  • C - Myles Turner
  • Injuries - Paul George (Ankle, Day-to-Day), Rodney Stuckey (Hamstring, Out Indefinitely)

Oklahoma City Thunder:

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