Oklahoma City may still be without Kenrich Williams, who has been absent due to COVID-19 protocol, however, head coach Mark Daigneault said that he is “close” to rejoining the team.
The Spurs look to be at full strength heading into the contest and will be hosting the OKC Thunder at the AT&T Center for their 5th home game in a row.
The four games at home have left Spurs reeling, only beating the shorthanded Clippers while losing close games to the Rockets, Cavaliers, and another loss to the Phoenix Suns on Monday Night.
OKC Thunder vs Spurs preview – Shai’s game to win
Players to watch:
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been unstoppable in the Thunder’s past four games, scoring over 30 points in three of the last four games. If the Thunder expects to win, they will likely have to rely heavily on the shot creation of Gilgeous-Alexander to get there.
In the last five games, the Thunder have been sporting a top 10 offense largely driven by the efficient play of Gilgeous-Alexander.
Defensively, the Thunder will have to pay special attention to Dejounte Murray who is pushing for his first All-Star selection like SGA is. Murray has been averaging All-Star-worthy stats of 23.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists.
The Spurs guard has been controlling the offense in an excellent fashion, despite the recent close (and some not-so-close) losses.
Expect to see resident James Harden-stopper Luguentz Dort harassing Murray for the majority of the game if the Thunder wish to slow him down enough to get the win.
Jakob Poeltl scored a respectable 23 points in his last outing against the Suns on Monday. With OKC’s undersized big man rotation, it will be interesting to see how Poeltl capitalizes on mismatches around the rim as a second offensive weapon alongside Murray.
Fellow European Kristaps Porzingis struggled on these mismatches and post-up opportunities on Monday, eventually finishing 6-of-11 and one frustrated outburst on the bench. Poeltl was unavailable for the Thunder’s win over the Spurs in November, he may be the difference this time around.
Spurs seeks to snap recent cold streak
The Spurs currently sit two games behind the Trail Blazers for the 10th seed. They need to win the games against the likes of OKC if they wish to sneak into the play-in game this year.
A win against the Thunder would help right the ship that has been steering off course this season. Meanwhile, a win does not move the needle much for the Thunder in any way.
A loss, however, would help close the gap in terms of draft odds as the Thunder stealthily try to position themselves for a top-three pick this upcoming draft.