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Thunder Game Day #80: at Denver Nuggets

Oklahoma City Thunder (45-34, 17-22 away) vs. Denver Nuggets (38-41, 22-18 home)
Sunday, April 9 :: 4:00 p.m. CST :: Pepsi Center (18,007)

Thunder Game Day #80: at Denver Nuggetsvs. Thunder Digest

TV: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 676-5, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27, U-Verse 751/1751 HD)
Online Stream: here.
Radio: WWLS Sports Animal 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemy: Here.
Line: Denver is a 4-point favorite. O/U is 229 1/2
Notes: Thunder: here | Nuggets: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • Russell Westbrook will enter his third game since tying Oscar Robertson, trying to obtain that 42nd triple double.
  • The Denver Nuggets are in the midst of a back and forth battle for that last playoff spot with the Portland Trail Blazers. Nikola Jokic and company are fighting for their playoff lives.
  • Oklahoma City is 2-0 vs. Denver this season. This is the first matchup of two that the Thunder will play against the Nuggets this week in the last week of the NBA regular season.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • You can catch the radio on Oklahoma City’s WWLS, 98.1 FM. Matt Pinto will be your play-by-play voice. If you’re in Tulsa, catch it on 1450 AM.
  • Brian Davis and Michael Cage call the game on the Thunder’s flagship station, Fox Sports Oklahoma. You can watch the game there, catch it on NBA League Pass, or use the Fox Sports App (If you’re in Oklahoma).

LAST GAME VS THE PHOENIX SUNS

  • Recap
  • Oklahoma City was without Andre Roberson, and it showed up defensively. The Thunder had no interest playing defense, especially in the first half, as Phoenix put up 71 points in the first two quarters.
  • Westbrook struggled heavily shooting wise, finishing the game just six of 25 from the floor. He finished the game just two assists short of his 42nd triple double.
  • Steven Adams had a nice night in an ugly loss, finishing with 12 points and 11 rebounds. McDermott finished with 11 points, starting in the place of the injured Roberson. Doug tallied 40 total minutes played, a game-high.
  • The Thunder finished the game with just 13 total assists, Westbrook getting eight of those.

SCOUTING THE NUGGETS

  • The Denver Nuggets are 38-41 on the season, currently ninth in the Western Conference
  • Denver is 5-5 in their last 10 games.
  • The Nuggets pretty much have to win their last three games for a shot to make the playoffs.
  • Denver won their last game on Friday night vs the New Orleans Pelicans 122-106.
  • The Thunder is 19-14 versus the Nuggets during the Oklahoma City era.
  • Oklahoma City is 2-0 vs. Denver this season.
  • In the previous meeting between these two teams, the Thunder beat the Nuggets 121-106.
  • Oklahoma City is 7-9 all-time on the road vs. Denver, but 4-2 in their last six games.
  • Russell Westbrook has had two triple-doubles in both meetings vs the Nuggets this season.
  • Westbrook is averaging 34 points, 14 assists, and 14 rebounds vs Denver in two games.
  • Wilson Chandler (Illness) is questionable.
  • Will Barton (Left foot soreness) is questionable.
  • Jammer Nelson (Right calf strain) is also questionable.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Denver came on Feb. 22, 2015, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 129-104 (25-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (29 points) vs. Denver happened during a 119-90 loss on March 3, 2010.

RUSSELL WESTBROOK TRIP-DUBS

  • Russell Westbrook has 78 career triple-doubles, that’s tied for fourth all-time.
  • 23 of the 78 are against Houston, Orlando, Washington, Minnesota, and Philadelphia. He has four against each team.
  • Westbrook has recorded two of his 41 triple doubles vs Denver this season.
  • Westbrook will be trying to break Oscar Robertson’s trip-dub record, after tying it last five days ago vs the Milwaukee Bucks.
  • Westbrook is fourth all-time in triple-doubles.

ALL-TIME TRIPLE-DOUBLE LIST

Rank Name Triple-doubles
1 Oscar Robertson 181
2 Magic Johnson 138
3 Jason Kidd 108
4 Russell Westbrook 79

INJURY REPORT

  • Alex Abrines (left knee sprain) is out.
  • Andre Roberson (knee soreness) is questionable.

SIX SEED FOR OKLAHOMA CITY

  • With the Los Angeles Clippers defeating the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder have clinched the six seed in the Western Conference.
  • Oklahoma City has now reached the playoffs six out of the last eight years.
  • This is the first time the Thunder have been a six seed since coming to Oklahoma City. They will face the Houston Rockets in the opening round.

STILL GOOD ODDS

  • According to Sportsbook, the Oklahoma City Thunder have the eleventh best odds to win the Larry O’Brien trophy.
  • They have the sixth best odds to win the Western Conference behind, the Jazz, Clippers, Spurs, Rockets, and the Warriors.

NEXT UP

  • The Thunder finish their four game road trip vs Minnesota on Tuesday.
  • Minnesota is 31-48 on the season, good for thirteenth in the Western Conference.
  • Oklahoma City is 2-1 vs the Timberwolves this season, but lost the last game between the two, 96-86.
  • Minnesota is 3-7 in their last 10 games.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Slow down Jokic

Oklahoma City’s front court struggles with uber-athletic big men like Nikola Jokic. Jokic can do it all, whether it be shooting, passing like a point guard, or rebounding and grabbing extra possessions for his team. Steven Adams will have to guard him out on the perimeter at times, and that is where things can get tough. If the Thunder can slow down Jokic, though, then it should be a good day for Oklahoma City.

Fast break

The Phoenix Suns did a solid job of slowing down Westbrook, by guarding him full court. They didn’t put tons of pressure on him, but just enough so he could not dribble down hill with a clear path to the basket. It definitely got the Thunder out of rhythm. So today, on missed Denver shots, Oklahoma City will have to do a better job out getting out on the run and capitalizing on the fast break.

At least try on defense

Last game at Phoenix, the Thunder did not lock in defensively at all, especially in the first half. If it wasn’t for the big hole they dug themselves in the first half, Oklahoma City might have been able to win that game. The Thunder need to defend early so they aren’t chasing a huge deficit in the second half.

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