OKC Thunder (20-4) vs. Atlanta Hawks (15-7) Preview

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma City Thunder will look for their 12th straight victory tonight as they hit the road to take on the Atlanta Hawks.

The Hawks are one of the few teams to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder this year doing so 104-95 on Nov. 4 in OKC earlier this year.

Josh Smith did not play in the first meeting between these two teams as it was Al Horford leading the way for the Hawks with 23 points and 12 rebounds.

Kevin Durant had 22 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in the first meeting and Kevin Martin had 28 points including six 3-pointers. Russell Westbrook really struggled though shooting just 5-of-18 from the field and finishing with 14 points and nine assists.

The Hawks have been one of the surprise teams of the NBA this year in their first season since trading Joe Johnson. They currently set in third place in the Eastern Conference standings just a game back of the defending champion Miami Heat.

Atlanta has been good offensively ranking 12th in the league in offensive efficiency but it has been their defense that is the main reason they are winning so much. The Hawks are 4th in the NBA this year with a defensive efficiency rating of 98.1.

The Thunder have really improved offensively since the first meeting and throughout this 11-game winning streak have become the most efficient offense in the NBA.

A big reason for that offensive surge has been Serge Ibaka’s growth this season. Ibaka is coming off his best game of the year two nights ago vs. the San Antonio Spurs when he tied his career-high with 25 points and also pulled down 17 rebounds.

The Thunder will set a franchise-record with another win tonight increasing their winning streak to 12 games. It’s the best start in franchise history since the 1996-97 Seattle Supersonics start to the year.

Tonight is the first game of a 3-game road trip for the Thunder. Tomorrow night they will be on the road again in Minnesota then they will play at Miami on Christmas Day.

The Hawks have been a tough matchup for the Thunder over the past few seasons so expect another close game tonight. The Thunder aren’t the same team they were the first time they played Atlanta and they will definitely want to avenge their defeat earlier this year.

The game will tip-off at 7:30 p.m. EST.

Topics: Atlanta Hawks, Oklahoma City Thunder

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