Thunder (1-game winning streak)
104.8 Offensive Efficiency (5th)
99.0 Defensive Efficiency (14th)
+5.8 Differential (7th)
94.7 Pace (12th)
Pistons (1-game winning streak)
93.7 Offensive Efficiency (28th)
106.5 Defensive Efficiency (29th)
-12.8 Differential (last)
91.0 Pace (28th)
The Thunder got an ugly win two nights ago as they took care of the New Jersey Nets. Oklahoma City returns home tonight after a 3-game road trip. Kevin Durant has been off shooting lately so the return home will hopefully cure that. The Pistons like Washington and New Jersey before them are among the worst the NBA has to offer. Getting up for this one may not even be necessary for the Thunder. While all three of the previous Thunder games seemed like sure things this one probably is the surest. Detroit may have the worst roster in the league and has yet to score 100 points in a game this season. There’s no area where they have an advantage over the Thunder. This should be an easy one.
Thunder keys to the game
1. Take away Detroit’s first option
The Thunder did a great job last game on the defensive side. They played hard defense against the Nets and didn’t let them get any easy looks. If they do the same against the Pistons they will force them into one of their uncomfortable zones. The Pistons are the worst team in the league when it comes to scoring on isolation plays (0.61 PPP). They like to start their offense with players coming off screens or pick-and-rolls so solid defense preventing any good looks from that will force Detroit into some one-on-one looks. They are at their best when Ben Gordon is running off screens. He is fourth in the league in efficiency shooting off screens and the fifth most efficient spot-up shooter. Couple that with Brandon Knight making 44 percent of his spot-up threes this season and it’s no mystery where Detroit can hurt you.
2. Be physical with Greg Monroe
One of the few bright spots for the Pistons this year is Greg Monroe. The Pistons like to go inside to him and he’s averaging 15.4 points and shooting 53.1 percent from the field this season. The challenge will be up to Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins early on to set the tone like they have been lately. Ibaka had a season-high five blocks last game with four coming in the first half. Ibaka also had three blocks in the first half versus Boston last week, sending the message to Kevin Garnett early that posting up wouldn’t be a good idea. If the Thunder do the same tonight, they will be well on their way to a blowout victory in their return home.
3. Get out and run
Like so many bad teams before them, Detroit is terrible when it comes to their transition defense. Transition is really all about effort and when you are so inefficient on offense, it results in a lot of transition opportunities for your opponent. The Pistons are 26th in the league versus transition and also 28th in the league in defending cuts. The Thunder are great in transition but their offense does become stagnant a lot. They need to take advantage of Detroit tonight and get a lot of movement off the ball and they’ll find their way into some easy buckets.
Prediction: Oklahoma City wins 104-85.