After a thrilling doubleheader with the Los Angeles Lakers in which the Thunder lost both in overtime, we look to tonight’s contest with the Denver Nuggets.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is listed as out for the contest due to a sore knee, Theo Maledon (COVID-19 Protocol), and George Hill (thumb), and Isaiah Roby is listed as questionable, Rylan Stiles reports. With the Thunder’s guard spots severely depleted, we can expect to see an uptick in usage for Lu Dort and Hamidou Diallo, both of which have been impressive this week. With the G-League bubble now underway, the Thunder bench will be looking very thin again. Aleksej Pokusevski and Ty Jerome, as well as the two two-way players Moses Brown and Josh Hall, are all in Lake Buena Vista for the Oklahoma City Blue.
The Nuggets are once again without starting shooting guard Gary Harris who has missed their past 4 games with a thigh injury as well as PJ Dozier. With Harris out of the starting line up, we can expect to see Will Barton once again slide into the two-guard spot.
One thing to watch for in the Ball Arena tonight will be how Dort is utilized in the matchup defensively. Denver is overloaded with offensive weapons at practically every position, so we will be keeping a close eye on how Mark Daigneault approaches the guard and wing spots. Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., and now Will Barton starting so we could see Dort sliding up and down positions defensively or stick to just Jamal Murray. We will wait and see who is put in the ‘Dorture Chamber’ tonight like Lebron James was on Wednesday.
Al Horford will need to have a big night too, matching up against the MVP candidate Nikola Jokic. Big Al has found his rhythm as of late, putting up over 20 points in two of his last three matches. As the veteran big man continues to find his form, will it be enough to stop Jokic and the Nuggets are coming off their blowout win in Cleveland?
With the Thunder depleted, Mr. Hustle himself Kenrich Williams will more than likely need to step up big again tonight. After putting up 24 points in the narrow loss against the Lakers on Wednesday, look to see Kenny tear through the Nuggets with his unwaveringly high effort plays.
The game will be won and lost with coach Daigneault tonight if the game is a close one. OKC lost their previous game due to time-out mismanagement, so Daigneault will be sure to try to right the wrongs and learn from mistakes in the Lakers matchups. Keep a close eye on the time-out plays down the stretch.
A win tonight would help solidify Denver’s position in the standings and move them to 14-11 on the season. Meanwhile a win tonight would still leave the Thunder near the bottom of the standings. In any case, it is sure to be an exciting contest.
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