OKC Thunder vs. Knicks: 3 winning keys and priority matchups

OKC Thunder's Dennis Schroder #17 in action against Allonzo Trier #14 Knicks (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
OKC Thunder's Dennis Schroder #17 in action against Allonzo Trier #14 Knicks (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
1 of 3
OKC Thunder
OKC Thunder Steven Adams (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The OKC Thunder visit the Mecca to take on the New York Knicks. Gameday breaks down the keys to winning, a player and matchup to look out for.

The OKC Thunder are ready to roar for the first time in 2020 at MSG as they face the Eastern Conference 13th seeded New York Knicks. It’s a contest that the Thunder are expected to win. However, New York is coming off a reasonably close loss to the Utah Jazz and prior to that an impressive two-point victory over the Houston Rockets.

OKC responded from a couple of tough losses to beat the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.

Here are the keys to the game.

Protect Chris Paul at all costs:

This is a bit of a segue, but for the Thunder it should be a key to the game. The New York Post’s Frank Isola reported that the Knicks may be interested in trading for Thunder leader and star Chris Paul in the summer.

There is a connection with their newly appointed President Leon Rose who used to be Paul’s agent. I don’t see this happening after witnessing the enjoyment and contentment of CP3 at this part of his career as well as where OKC is at the moment.

But it is still vital that the Thunder protect Paul when they are in New York, making sure that no secret meetings are held.

I truly believe that Paul loves where he is right now, he’s said it on multiple occasions and Thunder Nation loves him just as much.

OKC taking advantage of all-round edge:

The Thunder have the edge over the Knicks in both offensive and defensive rating which isn’t a surprise considering their place in the standings and success rate.

While OKC average 110.8 points per game and allow 108.6, the Knicks score an average of 105.7 and concede 112.3. Over the past week, New York has delivered some encouraging performances despite not being able to really click on the court. But with young budding stars on the team, they do have some things to be happy about.

On the other hand the Thunder have mustered up any negative energy or assumptions about them and made themselves a force to be reckoned with.

On any given night, any team can win so the Thunder will look to come out firing from the outset.

Thunder play their own game:

This take us to the third key which is for the OKC Thunder to play their own game. Play with the same intensity they would any other match and not play down to their competition.

Yes, the Knicks are 13th in the East and 27th overall but as they’ve shown recently they can still get over and put up a fight against some of the top teams. In their win over the Rockets, seven players scored in double digits.

This is in spite of them being without their full squad as they’ve got three players out and two who are probable. So for OKC it is about making sure they’re staying true to them and taking every opportunity to win, as every match leading to the playoffs matters.