The Oklahoma City Thunder will play their second preseason game tonight at 9 p.m. EST on the road vs. the Utah Jazz.
The Thunder lost their first preseason game on the road vs. the Houston Rockets two nights ago 107-105. The Thunder were without three of their projected starters in that game: Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha.
Perkins and Sefolosha will again not play tonight but Ibaka will be back. James Harden will also miss the game with a strained groin. The injury isn’t considered serious for Harden and he will be evaluated when the team returns to Oklahoma City over the weekend.
Russell Westbrook will also miss the game but not for injury reasons, just for some extra rest.
Cole Aldrich will start again at center now with Ibaka alongside him at the four pushing Kevin Durant back to small forward. Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward started vs. Houston and tonight Hayward will start over Cook at two guard.
DeAndre Liggins, who looked very good against Houston scoring 10 points off the bench, will not play tonight. Hollis Thompson, who did not play vs. Houston, is expected to play tonight.
Another interesting development so far in the preseason was Reggie Jackson playing ahead of Eric Maynor. Head coach Scott Brooks has said the two backup points will split time in that role this season. Jackson looked leagues better than what he was in his rookie campaign last year and if he continues to progress could warrant some minutes instead of Maynor.
It was nice to see Maynor in action again though against the Rockets and he came out looking for his shot. With no Harden tonight, the playmaking for the second unit will rest largely with Maynor and Jackson and it will be interesting to see which point guard starts.
Perry Jones III did not play in the first half against the Rockets and therefore got no minutes with Durant and Westbrook. Brooks and everyone have been raving about Jones III in training camp and it would be nice to see him get a little more run tonight.
Rebounding is one of the relative weaknesses for this Thunder team and so was the case in their first preseason game as they were outrebounded by 11 and gave up 21 offensive boards. The Jazz are a team that will test you on the glass as they sport a very formidable front line that likes to bang.
Brooks said the team really emphasized practicing rebounding yesterday and that is something that they need to get better at. Brooks said that they can get their opponents to miss shots and they need to capitalize on that by working harder on the glass.
Once again the final score is not the most important thing tonight but the Thunder would still like to come out with a win. Like with Houston, Utah will probably be playing some of their better players a few more minutes than OKC does.
Durant and Westbrook only played the first half vs. Houston and both looked sharp in those minutes. Westbrook finished with 19 points, 16 of which came in the first quarter, and Durant had 13.
The game will tip at 9 p.m. EST and once again the best bet to watch it will be with an online stream as the game will only be showed locally in Utah.