Thunder (2-game winning streak)
105.6 Offensive Efficiency (3rd)
99.9 Defensive Efficiency (15th)
95.8 Pace (5th)
Kings (1-game losing streak)
95.5 Offensive Efficiency (26th)
104.8 Defensive Efficiency (27th)
95.7 Pace (7th)
This will be the first meeting of four between the Thunder and Kings this season. The Kings are a mess this season while the Thunder have the best record in the league. The Thunder have had to go down to the wire in their last two games on the road at Portland and at Golden State. The Thunder pulled out the victory each time with some good fortune. This game will be on national television on TNT tonight but there’s really no reason for the Kings to compete with Oklahoma City. The Thunder should be able to win this one easily and not have to play their stars too many minutes so that they can be rested for Utah Friday night.
Thunder keys to the game
1. Keep Sacramento off the offensive glass
The Thunder have improved lately with their defensive rebounding but are still susceptible to giving up a lot of offensive rebounds to their opponent especially when they go small. The Kings are third in the NBA in offensive rebounding rate led by DeMarcus Cousins who averages 4.3 per game. Cousins will be a load even for the Thunder to deal with tonight. In February so far Cousins is averaging 16.8 points and 14.0 rebounds per game in just 29.5 minutes per game. If he gets going, the Thunder could be in trouble.
2. Pick-and-roll offense
One of the areas that the Kings aren’t terrible at is defending the pick-and-roll. This is perhaps because they don’t have any point guard and often have a bunch of swing men on the floor who can switch. Sacramento is seventh in the league in defensive pick-and-roll PPP. Getting offense here won’t be as easy as the Thunder may expect so they should be ready early to be aggressive here and not settle for too many long jumpers.
The Kings are also decent when it comes to the transition game. They have the tenth best transition offense in the league while Oklahoma City is only 25th in the league defending the fast break. Tyreke Evans is one of the best finishers in the league and the Kings surround him with some very trigger-happy players like Marcus Thornton. The game plan is really simple for the Thunder. If they let the Kings get easy buckets, they’ll think they have a chance. If the Thunder come out and don’t take Sacramento lightly, they should be able to win based on their superior talent.
Prediction: Oklahoma City wins 104-96.