The Oklahoma City Thunder will take on the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night, at 8 p.m. in Oklahoma City to tip-off the second half of the NBA Season. The two teams will meet for the second time in a week’s time, and this time, injuries will play a big part in it. Like last time out, Luka Doncic is being held out of this game, the Mavs will also miss Kristaps Porzingis tonight in Bricktown.
This is part of the problem OKC will run into in their tanking quest, since the team plays no Nationally Televised games, opposing teams are allowed to rest their players against the Thunder as part of the new rules in the NBA this season.
The Thunder have a fair share of injuries of their own. George Hill (thumb), Josh Hall (Knee), Hamidou Diallo (groin), and a knew injury on the official injury report is Darius Bazley (Shoulder Contusion). Both teams will be short-handed entering this game, before the news of KP and Luka being out, the Thunder were five-point underdogs, they are now a one-point underdog at home. I would jump all over OKC getting points in this game.
The last time these two teams played, neither of them could hit a shot in a poor display of offense. I am expecting a huge night from NBA All-Star snub Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Every year following the All-Star break someone who was snubbed from the game goes scorched earth, why not SGA?
With Darius Bazley being out, the Thunder will try to rely on Isaiah Roby and Kenrich Williams to pick up the slack down-low.
This is the start of a pivotal stretch for the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise. As it sits right now, the Thunder have a pathway to both getting into the play-in and reaching the playoffs, and bottoming out and getting the third or fourth-best lottery odds in a loaded 2021 NBA Draft. Either outcome dramatically changes the fate of the Thunder franchise, as does remaining where they are right now…In the middle.
For more on this game, and the interesting aspect of it, which is seeing how Mark Daigneault handles his rotation in the second half, check out Locked on Thunder anywhere you get your podcasts.
This story will be updated with quotes and updates from OKC Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault pre-game.
UPDATE: Mark Daigneault confirms that Aleksej Pokusevski will start in place of Darius Bazley.
Thunder starters: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lu Dort, Theo Maledon, Aleksej Pokusevski, and Al Horford.
Mark Daigneault said the team is “We are trying to explore the team.” when asked about Aleksej Pokusevski getting his first career start tonight against Dallas.
Mark Daigneault described Darius Bazley’s injury, saying it happened in yesterday’s practice, the X-Ray was negative and that Bazley “Took a hard fall.”