Jan 23 2012; Oklahoma City OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) drives to the basket against Detroit Pistons small forward Tayshaun Prince (22) during the third quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena Mandatory Credit: Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE

OKC Thunder (3-2) vs. Detroit Pistons (0-5) Preview


The Oklahoma City Thunder will play their second game of a back-to-back tonight at home vs. the winless Detroit Pistons. The game will tip at 8 p.m. EST as the Thunder sport their new alternate uniforms.

OKC is coming off a tough win last night in Chicago vs. the Bulls. They trailed by six entering the fourth quarter then came back to win the game 97-91.

The Thunder haven’t gotten off to the greatest start this season but they’ve shown signs of improvement as the season has gone on.

Kevin Durant is averaging just 21.4 points per game this season as he is trying to focus on other things like rebounding and passing. He scored six points in the final 46 seconds to close out the Bulls last night. Tayshaun Prince will likely try to check Durant tonight and is one of few players in the league that could do a decent job on him.

Russell Westbrook has been up and down to start the season with last night being a little of both. His shot was off as he went 7-for-22 from the field but he dished out a season-high 12 assists. Detroit doesn’t have the kind of guards that could bother Westbrook so he should have his way with them tonight.

The Pistons have the third worst defensive efficiency in the NBA right now while the Thunder offense is 8th most efficient. The Pistons are particularly bad vs. the pick-and-roll, allowing 1.00 points per possession on those plays, 28th in the league.

The Thunder rely on the pick-and-roll more than anything else for offense but have been less efficient with it this year, partly due to James Harden’s departure. The Thunder are still fully capable of hurting their opponent in the pick-and-roll and Detroit’s defense provides a perfect opportunity for the Thunder to get back on track there.

A key component to the Thunder pick-and-roll game this season is Serge Ibaka who is coming off his best game of the year vs. the Bulls last night. He had 21 points to go with nine rebounds and four blocks and was very aggressive looking for his shot. The pick-and-pop opportunities should be aplenty for Ibaka again tonight with Westbrook expecting to find Ibaka a lot as well.

It’s hard to imagine much standing in the way of a Thunder victory tonight especially because they are playing at home but Greg Monroe is a player for Detroit that will have to play big for them to have a chance. Monroe recorded a triple-double in Detroit’s last game vs. the Sacramento Kings.

The Thunder always shoot a little better at home and turn the ball over less. Detroit just hasn’t shown anything this year that shows they can hang with the Thunder and that’s why the line is OKC by 11.5 and the Thunder should win.

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Tags: Detroit Pistons Oklahoma City Thunder

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