The Oklahoma City Thunder will play their first home preseason game tonight vs. the Charlotte Bobcats at 8 p.m. EST.
The Thunder have started the preseason off slowly losing their first two games on the road vs. the Rockets and Jazz. But preseason games are of course about more than just the final score.
The Thunder have been without some of their starters so far and will be again tonight. Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins will again be sidelined as well as James Harden. None of the injuries are serious however and all three are expected to be ready by the start of the regular season.
Russell Westbrook did not play in the Thunder’s last preseason game but that was just for him to rest some and he is expected to be back in the lineup tonight. Joining Westbrook on the starting five will be Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Cole Aldrich and likely Lazar Hayward.
The minutes have not been big so far for players like Durant and Westbrook but head coach Scott Brooks did say about the game tonight that “some” starters will be playing in the fourth quarter. Brooks is never happy with a loss and is planning to try and win the game tonight, not at all costs of course.
Rookie Perry Jones III led the Thunder with 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting in their last game. He has looked good so far in the preseason but has yet to get any run with the likes of Durant and Westbrook. Jones has been playing a lot of backup three minutes for Durant so we still might not see that tonight either.
The Thunder will be dressing three centers tonight as Daniel Orton will join Aldrich and Hasheem Thabeet and likely get his first playing time of the preseason. Aldrich had double-doubles in each game so far while Thabeet has struggled more fouling out in each game.
Another thing to keep a close eye on will be the backup point guards Reggie Jackson and Eric Maynor. Jackson started in place of Westbrook in the last game and has been playing slightly more than Maynor. Jackson is still very raw and had seven turnovers vs. Utah. Maynor has looked good but Brooks seems to seriously be considering them to split time in their role.
With Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka all in the starting lineup tonight, it will be interesting to see the offense in the post. All three have been posting up more in the preseason and alongside Durant and Westbrook, we will see if Ibaka gets any touches down there himself.
The Bobcats are the perfect team to get back to your winning ways fresh off a season in which they posted the worst winning percentage in NBA history. But that also means their starters should be playing more minutes than OKC’s so there’s no guarantee the Thunder will win.
Playing back in front of their home crowd should feel good for the Thunder players and expect them to look sharp. The tip will be at 8 p.m. EST and the game will not be on TV.