OKC Thunder need to be wary of Spurs wounded pride: preview

JANUARY 2: Steven Adams #12 of the OKC Thunder battles LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs for a rebound during second half . (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
JANUARY 2: Steven Adams #12 of the OKC Thunder battles LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs for a rebound during second half . (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
OKC Thunder (Photos by Darren Carroll/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Thunder wings vs DeMar DeRozan

The other key matchup of the night will be Luguentz Dort against DeMar DeRozan. The Thunder rookie has been nothing short of amazing with some of his defensive assignments and how he is able to stop players like James Harden and Damian Lillard to name a few.

However, probably due to him being a rookie the referees are calling some incredible fouls against him. Just watch any Thunder game and listen to Michael Cage describe why he is not actually fouling. What he is doing is some of the best positional defense I have seen from an NBA rookie, ever.

More from Thunderous Intentions

When Dort goes to the bench, on steps the Thunders primary defensive player from the start of the season, Terrance Ferguson. The Tulsa native has been coming off the bench due to the incredible defense of Dort over the past ten or so games.

The Thunder then has the ability to throw Hamidou Diallo and Deonte Burton at the former Toronto Raptors star. This will have the effect of wearing DeRozan out and potentially frustrating him.

If DeRozan manages to switch onto other players, Gilgeous-Alexander and Paul are both incredible defensive players. CP3 has made multiple all-defensive teams and SGA has really been using his length to good effect on defense.

On top of this, the wings have to stop the Spurs perimeter game and not let Bryn Forbes, Marco Belinelli, and Patty Mills get going. These three are 3-point snipers in every sense of the word and are key to the Spurs’ chances of winning.

One thing is for sure, if any coach in the league can find a ripple in the OKC Thunder defense it is Popovich. The key is to make players like Poltl take more shots than he is used to. Do this and the Thunder win.

Game Specifics:

Odds:

The Thunder are favored to win by 6.5 points with an over-under of 220.5 points.

The Venue: Chesapeake Energy Arena

Tipoff:  8:00 PM ET  | 7:00 PM CT

TV: FS Oklahoma

Radio: WWLS 98.1 FM OKC

Injuries:

  • DeMar DeRozan is day to day with back spasms. He did not play in Denver and is questionable for Tuesday’s match.
  • Darius Bazley is projected to miss between four to six weeks with right knee bone bruise – which should equate to a late March return.

History:
The teams have played each other 41 times in regular-season history with the Spurs holding a 23-18 advantage. Last season the teams played on three occasions with San Antonio taking two. This year the clubs have met twice previously and each taking one game.

Next. Lu Dort’s uprising couldn’t have come at a better time. dark

Enjoy the game and remember to check back after for player grades and insert your thoughts on the game.