Jan 25, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Thunder defeated the Sixers 103-91. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

OKC Thunder (35-10) vs. Atlanta Hawks (23-20) Preview


The Oklahoma City Thunder will return home tonight in search of their eighth straight victory as they will take on the Atlanta Hawks.

The win streak for the Thunder without Russell Westbrook has been very impressive. Most recently, they won back-to-back road games at Boston and at Philadelphia on Friday and Saturday night.

Kevin Durant missed his first game of the season (shoulder) Friday night and returned Saturday night with a triple-double against the 76ers.

Durant scored 32 points to go with 14 rebounds and 10 assists. It was his fifth career triple-double and second this season. Durant extended his streak of games with at least 30 points to 10 and he is averaging 38.2 points per game during that stretch.

The Thunder are 19-3 at home this season while Atlanta is 8-13 on the road. The Hawks have won three of their last five, beating Milwaukee on the road 112-87 in their last game.

Atlanta is currently third in the Eastern Conference standings with a 23-20 overall record. They lost Al Horford for the season on Dec. 30 but players like the newly acquired Paul Millsap (17.7 PPG) and Jeff Teague (16.2 PPG) have been stepping up in his absence.

The Hawks are seventh in the NBA as a team in true shooting percentage. One of their most deadly weapons is Kyle Korver, who is currently the NBA record holder in games in a row with at least one three-point make.

The Hawks are in the bottom half of the league in turnover rate and are 27th overall in offensive rebounding rate, a number which is likely declining since the Horford surgery.

Atlanta won’t be the easiest win for the Thunder. They are a legitimate team that if you aren’t up for, will surprise you.

Containing the Hawks on offense starts with Teague, who is currently fourth in the NBA in drives per game averaging 9.6. Atlanta scores 10.9 points per game on those drives with Teague scoring 5.5 per game himself.

The Thunder have risen to third in the NBA in defensive efficiency this season and they have continued to be elite on that end without Westbrook. For most teams coming up against OKC, they are experiencing a different animal than what most of the rest of the league does.

Another player that has been hot for the Thunder of late is Serge Ibaka, who is averaging 18.0 points per game over his last five while shooting 57.7 percent from the field.

It seems Ibaka is finally figuring out how to be a threat offensively without Westbrook. Durant has found nice chemistry with him and Reggie Jackson’s is improving as well.

The game will tip off at 7 p.m. CST tonight.

Tags: Oklahoma City Thunder