Dennis Schroder returns to play his former club as both the OKC Thunder and Lakers finish back-to-back sets. TI serves up five keys to winning the match.
In fairness, it’s been said the hardest game of an opposite coast road trip is actually the first game back home. That proved true as the Thunder fell to the Spurs on Tuesday.
OKC doesn’t have much time to adjust with the defending champion Lakers in town. At least the Lakers also played the night prior so they won’t have a rest advantage.
One thing we should expect is Mark Daigneault giving his squad every chance to win. For the coach, VP Sam Presti, and the players this game is much more about measurement. It will serve as a litmus test to decipher precisely how much further the team has to grow before they become an elite squad.
Interestingly, in the last eight games, the Lakers lost once – and that was to the Spurs who were the same squad to end the Thunder mini three-game win streak.
OKC Thunder chalkboard note 1: Windex time
If the need to get on the boards was a key point versus the Spurs increase that factor ten-fold versus the Lakers.
LA ranks first on the defensive glass, 14th on the offensive glass, and third overall when it comes to rebounding. Clearly, they have ample size which is led by their two superstars LeBron James (8.3) and Anthony Davis (8.7).
Eight Lakers grab 4.0 or more rebounds per game while the Thunder have six players in the same area with Luguentz Dort just off that benchmark (3.7).
Davis leads the Lakers with his 8.7 boards while Darius Bazley (8.1) is the only Thunder player to average more than eight boards.
The offensive glass will be an important area of focus. Specific attention will need to be paid to Montrezl Harrell who averages 3.0 offensive boards per game. Hopefully, Isaiah Roby will be able to play after suffering a hand injury on Tuesday to offset Harrell. Another option will be Kenrich Williams who got a mere three minutes versus the Spurs.
While rookie Aleksej Pokusevski had arguably his best game versus the Spurs- he’ll need to be careful in this match as Harrell is the type of player who likes to take advantage of rookies and then scream in their faces (privately hoping Poku blocks Harrell more than once and sending out those vibes into the universe 😉).