The Oklahoma City Thunder will get another chance to get back to .500 on the season as they host the 1-2 Toronto Raptors tonight at 8 p.m. EST.
The Thunder have stumbled out of the gates this year with a 1-2 record most recently losing at home to the Atlanta Hawks 104-95 two nights ago.
Kevin Durant has gone from the NBA’s leading scorer to a jack of all trades this season averaging 22.7 points, 14.3 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game so far this season. He’s also turning the ball over more than five times per game and the feeling is he needs to shoot the ball a little more than this.
Russell Westbrook is 1-for-3 on the year with two bad games and one good one. Coincidentally whether the Thunder win or not is also tied to Westbrook’s play. He had a favorable matchup in the Thunder’s last game vs. the Hawks and tonight it won’t get easier for him with Kyle Lowry leading the Raptors’ backcourt.
Lowry is leading the Raptors in nearly every category this year averaging 23.7 points, 7.0 assists and 7.3 rebounds per game so far while shooting 57.5 percent from the field. He is a hardnosed, tough player that won’t back down from Westbrook. It could mean an advantage for the Raptors or it could bring the best out of Westbrook too.
The biggest bright spot for OKC so far this season has been Kevin Martin’s seamless transition to the team. He had 28 points vs. Atlanta and is averaging 20.7 on the year while shooting 53.1 percent from the field and 70.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Martin will continue to come off the bench for now with the Thunder but the time may be coming soon where we wonder if he should be starting instead.
Serge Ibaka got his act together in the Thunder’s last game scoring 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Tonight he will be matched up with the former No. 1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani who spends a lot of time on the perimeter, something that may give Ibaka some problems.
Toronto is second-best in the league this season in not turning the ball over, a trend they will need to continue to have a shot at winning in Oklahoma City tonight.
It’s the defense that really needs to improve for the Thunder this season. They are second to last in the league defending pick-and-roll plays so far this year and it has showed. Pick-and-rolls are the biggest part of Toronto’s offense so the Thunder need to improve in that department to come away with the win tonight.
The Thunder are poised for a big game tonight after carefully walking through their first few games of the year. Expect Durant to take more control than he has so far this season and if Westbrook is good too, the Thunder should come out on top.