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Thunder Game Day #1: at Charlotte Hornets

Oklahoma City Thunder (0-0, 0-0 away) at Charlotte Hornets (0-1, 0-0 home)

Saturday, December 26 :: 6:00 p.m. CST :: Spectrum Center (19,077)
TV Coverage: Fox Sports Oklahoma
Radio Coverage: 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemyHere.
Line: The Charlotte Hornets are 2½-point favorites. The over/under is 217.5.
Online StreamFS OK | WWLS Sports Animal | Live Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Hornets: here

The Setup

  • The Oklahoma City Thunder are set to kick off the 2020-21 season against the Charlotte Hornets after having their real season opener delayed due to COVID-19 within the Houston Rockets.
  • Oklahoma City is ready to kick off their 13th season in Oklahoma since moving to Seattle. The Thunder during their 12 previous seasons are averaging 48.5 wins per season with only one losing season, their first year in 2008-09. Though, many would say the 2014-15 season felt like a losing season as it was the last time Oklahoma City missed the playoffs.
  • Gone is Steven Adams, Danilo Gallinari, Dennis Schröder, among others. They welcome a slew of new players like Al Horford, George Hill, Aleksej Pokusevski and Thèo Maledon.

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.
  • Chris Fisher 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).

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.
  • Chris Fisher 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).

FOLLowing the action

  • Last season, the Charlotte Hornets went 23-42 and are 0-1 this season.
  • The Hornets upgraded the point guard position by adding LaMelo Ball with the No. 3 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. He did go scoreless in his debut against the Cavs on Wednesday.
  • Speaking of against the Cavaliers… The Hornets lost Cleveland 121-114 but Terry Rozier tried his best with 42 points in the loss.
  • Last season, the Thunder won their only match up with Charlotte, 104-102 in overtime on Dec. 27.
  • Oklahoma City and Charlotte have this thing where they like to play after Christmas. The two teams have played within 48 hours of Christmas five times previously, with the Thunder going winning the last four to go 4-1.
  • All-time against Charlotte, the Thunder are 40-18 against the Hornets.
  • Since relocation, Oklahoma City is 17-5 against Charlotte, including winning the last four.
  • Oklahoma City has not lost to the Hornets since Dec. 2017.
  • In their last 10 games, the Thunder are 7-3 in the series.
  • Oklahoma City is 8-3 all-time in Charlotte and have won three straight in the Queen City.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Charlotte came on 11/26/12, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 114-69 (45-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (13 points) vs. CHA occurred during a 103-116 loss on 12/11/17.

INJURY REPORT

CHARLOTTE
Tyler Zeller is out (hand) for the next 4-to-6 weeks.
Grant Riller (knee) is out.

OKLAHOMA CITY
Ty Jerome (ankle) is out. He is considered day-to-day.
Trevor Ariza (personal) is out indefinitely.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Don’t let someone go off
LaMelo Ball, one of the top picks in this year’s draft went scoreless on Wednesday, so you know he’s going to be hungry. They have also have Devonte Grantham, so they have people who can score. After Scary Terry went off in Game 1 against the Cavs, the Thunder cannot let someone go off in a game that has such razor thin margin of error room.

Let Shai be Shai
We said this a lot with Russell Westbrook but I think it’s going to apply to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as he heads to be the face of the franchise in his third year. He’s going to make mistakes but we’ve seen those bursts of excellence last season. Now, the Thunder (and the fans) have to trust him to be what they expect him to be.

Bench Production
As bad as many think Oklahoma City is going to be, their bench appears to be deeper than usual. We’re going to see a lot of different players score but will it be consistent? That’s always been an issue for the Thunder over the last decade. Will it come through tonight?

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