OKC Thunder Preview: Will Brooklyn Be a Challenge?


Early Rumblings is your ultimate OKC Thunder preview for tonight’s game. Oklahoma City has won two in a row and welcomed superstar Kevin Durant back into the lineup. But there are still questions – particularly on the defensive front – and it’s possible that OKC has lost their identity. As for Brooklyn, their expensive shot at a title failed and they’ve blown up the team and now face a difficult rebuild. Can they find a way to upset the Thunder?

Brooklyn Nets (3-11) @ Oklahoma City Thunder (9-6)

7:00 p.m. CST€“ Wednesday, November 25, 2015 – Chesapeake Energy Arena

Broadcast on FOX Sports/OKC

Key Reserves

OKC Thunder: Enes Kanter, Dion WaitersD.J. Augustin, Kyle Singler, Nick Collison

Brooklyn Nets: Andrea Bargnani, Shane Larkin, Bojan Bogdanovic, Sergey Karasev

Storm Alert – What to Look For in Today’s Game

Biggest story: KD returned on Monday night against the Utah Jazz and was, well, nothing short of spectacular. After missing six games due to a hamstring injury, he torched the Jazz for 27 points on 10-of-13 shooting, looking fluid and showing no rust whatsoever. But it’s worth keeping an eye on Durant and seeing how he responds on Wednesday; the team has looked mediocre without their superstar and can’t afford to lose him again. And while his return definitely provided a boost of energy, it’ll be interesting to see how OKC maintains interest against a lesser opponent. Staying focused and finding a way to keep improving is essential in tonight’s game.

Best matchup: It seems like years have passed since Brook Lopez was virtually on his way to joining Oklahoma City. Instead, the deal went through, general manager Sam Presti acquired Kanter instead and he’s now a high-priced contributor. Lopez decided to re-sign with the Nets and he’s been one of their few bright spots, leading the team in scoring at 19.7 points per game. He’s shooting a career-low 48 percent from the field and he’s definitely a step slower than he was (and he was never lightning quick to begin with). But he’s still capable of potent scoring and Adams will have his hands full defensively. If Brooklyn has any hope of winning, it’ll be because Lopez got the Big Kiwi into foul trouble and is having his way.

Why you should watch: It’s easy to dismiss the Nets – they’re not the worst team in the league but they’re definitely struggling to find a way to win. They’re also an example of how shortsighted roster moves can hurt the team’s long-term chances without yielding anything positive. Just a few years ago, Brooklyn made key trades to compete for the Eastern Conference title, sacrificing draft picks and paying huge salaries (and accompanying taxes) in the process. They didn’t win, had to trade away those aging, expensive veterans and now have a collection of players that don’t quite mesh. Their future isn’t particularly bright but they still have to find a way to compete 82 times a year. If nothing else, seeing how they find some way to lose the game is a form of entertainment in itself.

Rookie Hollis-Jefferson is usually good for one highlight-level dunk per game, so keep on eye on him tonight as well. He’s also coming off a strong outing versus the Celtics, where he showed some versatility on offense to go along with his frenetic defensive effort.

History Patterns and Current Trends: The Nets have somehow won their last three games in OKC (as per ESPN.com)…in nine career games versus Oklahoma City, Lopez is averaging just 0.3 assists per game, his lowest mark against any team…Brooklyn is giving up 104.4 points per game and 46.6 percent shooting, worst of all Eastern Conference teams…Westbrook has missed the past four matchups against Brooklyn and Durant has missed the last two.

Check back with Thunderous Intentions after the game for a full recap, player grades, analysis and more.

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