OKC Thunder must limit Nuggets one-two punch in Northwest battle

OKC Thunder's Danilo Gallinari #8 puts up a shot over Jerami Grant #9 (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
OKC Thunder's Danilo Gallinari #8 puts up a shot over Jerami Grant #9 (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
OKC Thunder’s Luguentz Dort #5 puts up a shot over Gary Harris #14 (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Defensive contest:

OKC and Denver are nearly identical in defensive rating with 108.2 and 108.0 respectively. Grant leads his team in blocks with 0.9 per game.

I can’t wait to see him and Terrance Ferguson go at it. They’re so much fun to watch especially when they’re at their best.

Despite Ferguson coming off the bench, it will be interesting to see if he asserts himself and creates chances for himself to score as TI’s Matthew Hallett highlighted. 

Luguentz Dort is excelling in this right now and he isn’t afraid to guard your favorite player. His contribution defensively as well as the urgency of both teams in this area will be key.

As they say, defense wins games and if the All-Star match implied anything, its that basketball is so much better when teams are challenging each other on both ends of the floor.

Limiting Jokic and Murray:

Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray are a great duo, both talented players who are still young but are making waves with the success of their team and how well they work together.

Murray is a sensational scorer who can go off at any time. The versatility of his teammate Jokic and his ability to take advantage of his defenders, scoring so seamlessly is something OKC will be fixated on.

The Nuggets were very close to making the Western Conference Finals last year, after losing to the Blazers in a series that went to seven games. They will be driven to go even further and Jokic and Murray will no doubt be at the forefront of that stretch.

Offensive rebounding:

The Nuggets are number one in offensive rebounds, snatching 29.9 percent of their offensive rebounds. This exceeds the average NBA percentage of 27 percent.

On the other hand, the OKC Thunder are 29th, grabbing 24.2 percent of their own shooting rebounds.

It is important for OKC to try and dominate the boards and go for every loose ball in order to stop the Nuggets from capitalizing on missed shots.