The Oklahoma City Thunder are stomping into Scotiabank arena tonight to face off against the Toronto Raptors for the second time this season and this time there is plenty at stake for both of these teams. OKC sits at a record of 34-35 and are currently the 9th seed so they are looking to get every win they can so they can rise up in the standings and the same can be said for Toronto who sits at a record of 33-36 and is also the 9th seed currently. Both teams are fairly healthy with plenty to fight for should make this 48 minutes of great basketball.
Despite constant tanking jokes and having one of the youngest teams in the NBA, OKC has a nice group of guys who are clearly talented and it all starts with their young Canadian star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Shai is one of the most prolific drivers in NBA history and in order for Toronto to deal with this they probably put OG Anunoby on him or run zone in order to deter Shai from getting to the rim. Unlike past years where the talent level in OKC was below par, this season they have plenty of guys who can make quick decisions off the catch and actually punish a team in rotation such as rookie Jaylen Williams or Sophomore Josh Giddey so much like most other games the rotations have to be on point. OKC is shooting 36 percent from three as a team this season so they can and will burn you from out there if you close out sloppily, especially Isaiah Joe who is sinking a staggering 43 percent of his threes this season.
This should be another game where the Fred VanVleet-Jakob Poetl pick and roll generates a lot of offense because OKC doesn’t really have a whole bunch of interior size on the defensive end so Jakob should be able to get off push shots with relative ease and also be able to get rebounds like crazy.
Fred VanVleet has been on a tear recently as well, taking full advantage of being lead guard both as a playmaker and as a scorer and OKC’s point of attack defense isn’t the most formidable so he should be able to free himself up for looks tonight as well.
The million dollar question for tonight though will be what version of Pascal Siakam do we get tonight? He has been in a slump for quite some time now and while he still has been impacting the game by drawing attention to open up his teammates, he hasn’t been able to score in a way that reflects his early season self in quite some time, so we have to watch out for that.
OG Anunoby however, is on a pretty nice streak right now, averaging 24 points and 3 steals shooting 57 percent from three and 74 percent from the field over his last three games. His creation has looked much better lately and it’ll be much needed if Pascal continues to slump the way he has.
Shai is the engine of the thunder’s offense and Nick Nurse always tries to sell out on the star and make the other players on the team beat you, so tonight’s game will most likely come down to, can Toronto be as cohesive on the defensive end as they were for many long stretches against Denver and not let OKC thrash them while in rotation, sometimes they can, sometimes the just haven’t, we shall see tonight.
Tip-Off: 7:30pm EST | TV: Sportsnet One, 4K | Radio: TSN Radio 1050
Aleksej Pokusevski is out(leg), Chet Holmgren is out for the season with a foot injury.
PG: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Tre Mann
SG: Josh Giddey, Isaiah Joe
SF: Luguentz Dort, Lindy Waters III
PF: Jaylen Williams, Ousmane Dieng
C: Jaylin Williams, Dario Saric
Dalano Banton (thumb) is questionable. Otto Porter Jr is out(toe)
PG: Fred VanVleet, Will Barton, Malachi Flynn, Dalano Banton
SG: Scottie Barnes, Gary Trent Jr.
SF: O.G. Anunoby
PF: Pascal Siakam, Chris Boucher, Precious Achiuwa, Thaddeus Young
C: Jakob Poeltl, Christian Koloko
The Raptors are favored by 5.5. Over/Under is 230.5.