The Oklahoma City Thunder season has officially submerged into the much longed-for tank. It is dark in here, metal surrounds us as we cruise down the street just searching for that finishing line, hoping to be rewarded on June 22nd. The OKC Thunder will face their most critical stretch of the year, starting with this very back-to-back. First up is the Charlotte Hornets, a surprisingly good and fun team in the Eastern Conference who had now been derailed by injuries, up next is the Cleveland Cavilers who hold a slight lead over OKC on Tankathon dot com.
In this game against the Hornets, the upstart Eastern Conference squad will be without Rookie of the Year caliber guard LaMelo Ball, veteran forward Gordon Hayward, and Malik Monk. The Thunder will miss star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (foot), Darius Bazley (shoulder), Josh Hall (concussion), Isaiah Roby (concussion), and Mike Muscala (ankle), Lu Dort (concussion).
That leaves the Thunder with only ten players available, including Kenrich Williams who left the last Thunder game with a Sprained Ankle. The average age of the active roster, is 22.4 years old, which includes Darius Miller who is 30 and gets limited run.
The Hornets enter this game 5-5 in their last ten, on a one-game losing streak, and are a game above .500. The Thunder are five and a half point underdogs. I am taking the Hornets -5.5, and for the Money Ball pick of the day for Locked on Thunder listeners, give me Svi Mykhailiuk.
In this game, Jaylen Hoard and Justin Robinson should steal eyeballs in this contest. Hoard, on a two-way contract, and Robinson on a ten-day contract have a lot left to prove. They will get the chance tonight, against the 13th ranked defense according to defensive rating, the Hornets are also 15th in paint points allowed which will be worth monitoring when evaluating starting center Moses Brown.
The Hornets allow their opposition to shoot 46.8-percent from the floor (17th, OKC 18th at 46.9), The Hornets are 13th in opponent 3-point percentage, only allowing 111-points per contest. The Hornets defense should be able to swarm an already lackluster Thunder offense without their top scorers.
The Thunder look to continue their recent losing ways, as a trade-off for better odds at capturing an elite level talent in the draft and setting this rebuild on a fast track to glory.
This story will be updated with quotes from Mark Daigneault pregame. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. on Bally Sports Oklahoma.
UPDATE: Mark Daigneault announced pregame that Kenrich Williams is active, and will start. Williams, left Monday’s game against the Pistons, with an ankle sprain.
Mark Daigneault also announced Darius Miller is OUT, after sustaining a groin sprain.
The starters for Oklahoma City tonight will be the same as last time out. Theo Maledon, Svi Mykhailiuk, Aleksej Pokusevski, Kenrich Williams, and Moses Brown.