Author - Chuck Chaney

Welcome to get right night

Westbrook nominated for multiple ESPY awards

By Josh Donaldson

The Oklahoma City Thunder are off to a 0-4 start to begin the 2018-19 NBA season, the worst start in franchise history. The only other seasons that compare to Oklahoma City’s current slow start are 2008-09 and 2014-15. In 2008, the Thunder started 0-2, won its third game, and then proceeded to drop to 1-16 before winning again. That season, of course, Oklahoma City was just happy to have an NBA franchise with two promising young players and did not mind the team finishing with the fourth worst record in the league, a standard that the current Thunder team does not share.

In 2014-15, Oklahoma City again started 0-2, won game 3, and then proceeded to drop the next two for a 1-5 start. However, the 2014-15 Thunder team went on to finish 45-37, and barely missed the playoffs after Kevin Durant went down for the season with a foot injury. That season is also memorable because it was the league’s first glimpse of Peak Westbrook, which has been on display the last two seasons.

This year, the Thunder have bested (or worsted?) those previous slow starts at 0-4. But don’t hit that panic button quite yet. As the 2014-15 season shows, a slow start does not necessarily spell disaster for the rest of the season, especially for a roster bolstered by two of the top-15 players in the league. Also, consider that the Thunder would have almost certainly finished with a better record and made the postseason in 2014-15 had Durant not missed significant time due to injury.

As previously mentioned by Thunder Digest, some other non-Thunder slow starts to rest the nerves of anxious Thunder fans include the 2004-05 Chicago Bulls, who started 0-9 and finished 47-35, and the 2006-07 Dallas Mavericks, who started 0-4 before finishing with the best record in the Western Conference at 67-15.

While nobody will argue that the Thunder has played anywhere close to its best basketball, the team has also faced a difficult schedule to begin the season, with games against both of the preseason favorites to matchup in the NBA Finals in June. The team went through training camp, pre-season, and its first two regular season games without Russel Westbrook, the life-blood of the organization, so it is not unusual to see a couple of hiccups in Westbrook’s first two games back.

Oklahoma City has also started the season ice cold from the field, ranking last in the league in field-goal percentage, three-point percentage, and free-throw percentage. The team is moving the ball well and getting a lot of quality looks on offense, but, per Royce Young of ESPN, the Thunder are shooting 26.4% on wide open shots. For some perspective of just how poorly the Thunder are shooting: the Houston Rockets rank second to last in field-goal percentage on wide open shots at 35.6%. Expect significant regression back to the mean for the Thunder, beginning tonight.

Walking into the Lion’s Den of Chesapeake Energy Arena tonight are the Phoenix Suns, one of the youngest rosters in the NBA. The Suns are on the second night of a back-to-back on the road, coming off a beating at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies last night. Additionally, Phoenix is without its best player, Devin Booker, who will sit with a hamstring injury tonight, and DeAndre Ayton, the former Arizona Wildcat who the Suns selected at number one overall in June at the NBA draft, is dealing with a sprained ankle and has yet to face a defensive challenge the likes of Big Kiwi, Steven Adams.

Oklahoma City certainly has areas that it needs to improve on if it wants a chance at a deep postseason run in the spring. The team needs to start knocking down open shots and find some cohesion on the defensive end in the absence of Andre Roberson. But blowing out the young, handicapped Suns tonight should be a big first step to getting the team’s head right and setting its course back towards being one of the league’s elite teams. All of this adds up to Get Right Night for the Oklahoma City Thunder in what should be an enjoyable viewing experience for Thunder fans.

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Letting Billy Donovan go right now makes no sense

The Oklahoma City Thunder are 0-4 for the first time in franchise history. Times are low and fans are calling for the head of the man with the slicked back hair. Donovan has placed blame on himself before. He admits when the Thunder have messed up but it feels as this time around, the blame is more generic than in the past.

The real question is if the seat Donovan sits on is hot? It’s probably not. That’s not a very Sam Presti like situation, most of the time. Only once in the franchise has a coach been let go midseason. PJ Carlesimo was fired 13 games in to the 2008-09 season and replaced by Scottie Brooks. The Thunder turned the tide and eventually played respectable basketball. Presti said at the time of the Carlesimo firing: “There’s accountability for everybody involved — players, coaches, myself and anyone involved with our basketball team. We understand that.”

If Oklahoma City was going to fire Donovan, it would most likely be at the end of the season. the Thunder aren’t going to put themselves in a situation where they’ll bring in a coach this season that’s not already on the roster. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t mean the Thunder won’t fire him. It’s just the coach is probably will be Mo Cheeks or Darko Rajakovic. There’s always the dark horse of Mark Daigneault, the head coach of the Oklahoma City Blue.

Before the firing of Earl Watson three games into last season, no NBA head coach had been fired since May 2016, a streak of 533 days. He was the first coach to be fired in season since Derek Fisher was fired from the Knicks job in Feb 2016. There had been his weird continuity with organizational leadership and coaching stability. However, that’s out the window. Since the start of the season, two coaches have been fired (Fizdale Memphis and Watson Phoenix). There might be more on the way (see: Fred Hoiberg Chicago and Budenholzer Atlanta).

The NBA is so much different than the NFL. Most NFL coaches are fired on what they call “Black Monday.” The NBA owners react without care of public perception. They strike without justifying their terminations. The stability in which we’ve seen in the last year or so is really an anomaly of it all. In the last 10 seasons, there have been nine Coach of the Year winners (Poppovich won twice). Six have been fired. Not resigned. Fired. So, this is truly a league of what have you done for me lately.

With David Fizdale in New York, that’s not happening. We’re at the point in the season, which is any point past training camp through the end of the regular season, to where no organization in their right mind would bring in an outside coach. They would just promote an assistant to an interim position.

Firing a coach may not always lead to results. The last five coaches in season (not counting Fizdale) have seen difference of success. Jay Triano, who stepped in for the fire Earl Watson in Phoenix is 7-11 during his tenure this season. Which is nice considering the Suns started out 0-3, losing by massive margins. However, Phoenix is only 3-7 in their last 10 games.

When Derek Fisher was let go by the All-Star break in 2016, Kurt Rambis stepped in and went 5-12 to start his campaign. He finished an abysmal 9-19.

The Rockets let hall of fame player, Kevin McHale, go 11 games into the season that same year. Houston was 4-7 at the time. J.B. Bickerstaff, the same guy who’s been named interim in Memphis, was named interim in Houston. Bickerstaff went 37-34 over his time in Houston that season.

Not everyone is fired for performance issues. Mike Malone was fired 24 games into the 2014-15 season. Sacramento would go on in the middle of the season to lose 12 of 13 games under Tyrone Corbin, former Utah Jazz head coach.

Mike Brown has been fired twice, despite turning out excellent resumes. He won 41 games in the strike shorten season with Los Angeles. However, the Laker’s management cited lack of patience as a reason why they canned the former Cavs coach. Before that, Cleveland let him go as LeBron bolted for Miami despite him winning 66 and 61 games the previous two seasons. Mike D’Antoni replaced Brown, going 40-32 for the rest of the season as that was the last time the Lakers made the playoffs.

So, there are tons of reasons why coaches get fired. Donovan falls under the lack of performance one. However, the chances of Donovan getting canned mid-season are very slim, even with the bad start.

Then again, they could and I could have typed all of this for nothing.

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Thunder unlucky against Celtics

When the smoke cleared, the Thunder were left wondering what the heck happened. Oklahoma City blew a 16-point lead en route to a 101-95 loss to the Boston Celtics on Thursday night.

It’s almost like deja vu. Last season, the Thunder blew an 18-point first half lead as they also were beaten at home by the Celtics. The Celtics are super young, but boy are they talented. An array of Celtics blitzkreiged the Thunder in the second half, with Marcus Morris scoring 19 points in the second half as the Thunder gave up SIXTY-SEVEN points in the second half. That’s not a typo. It’s almost identical to last season’s blown lead. The Thunder gave up 64, losing Boston 101-94.

Too many eerie things came to mind for Oklahoma City. They couldn’t hit free throws or three-pointers, two big things in any sports basketball professional setting. The superduo of Russell Westbrook and Paul George were pretty invisible in the fourth. It was Patrick Patterson that stepped up. While that’s nice, you really need Russ and PG to be apart of the battle when it counts.

Oklahoma City shot 39.2 percent in the second half. They missed six free throws and were 2-of-9 from beyond the arc. They turned it over eight times, 16 for the game. There were all of the red flags that have led to the 0-4 start to the season, rearing their head in the most clutch of circumstances. Oklahoma City cannot afford these stupid mistakes in these thinning margins.

Then, there’s the questionable decision making from Billy Donovan. The head coach, often under the microscope is being second guessed a lot. Especially in a state where the most winningest football team in all of the land just fired their defensive coordinator mid-season. One of the big differences between what happened and would could’ve happened is if Westbrook nails the jumper, the Thunder go out and tie the game. It’s a shot Westbrook has hit numerous times in his career. We’ve celebrated the exact same shot. Probably from the exact same spot. They get a second chance with George’s three-point attempt but nope.

There are big questions into the team right now and rightfully so. However, the Thunder lost this game. Oklahoma City could’ve made free throws; not turned the ball over or just down right made some shots. Sure, Boston did their thing but in the end, this loss; as embarrassing as it is; is on Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City will play the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night. The Thunder will try to avoid an 0-5 start. They’re the only winless team in the Western Conference.  The 2006-07 Dallas Mavericks started the season 0-4 but finish the season 67-15. Anything could happen.

Keys to the Game

Perimeter: F

Boston was 0-of-11 from deep in the first half but it’s the second half that draws the F. Oklahoma City struggled again from three and the Celtics nailed 11, yes 11, second half threes to beat the Thunder. Oklahoma City has to figure out the defensive thing where they don’t play really bad defense for 24 minutes. How about good defense for 48 minutes? Maybe average for 48 minutes? Please?

Free Throw Shooting: F

Yeah, I could go on and on but I won’t. This was unacceptable from everyone. Steven Adams missed four and the Thunder’s super duo missed a handful. It’s quite bad that a team, who once was on the verge of setting the NBA’s single season free throw percentage is at the bottom of the league. Make take some more attempts in practice? I don’t know, really.

Ball movement: F

Only 19 assists for the Thunder, who were already at the bottom of the league. The stagnation shined brightly as the Thunder’s last second play calling found some bricks to build a house. Oklahoma City has share the ball. I don’t know whether to blame Westbrook or Donovan for this. So often the Thunder, in key situations, despite the roster turnover, finds themselves reverting back to just old habits of standing around and watching Westbrook try to do it all.

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Thunder Game Day #4: vs. Boston Celtics

Oklahoma City Thunder (0-3, 0-1, home)

vs.

Boston Celtics (2-2, 1-1 away

Thursday, October 25 :: 7:00 p.m. CST :: Chesapeake Energy Arena (18,203)
TV Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27)
TV Coverage: TNT (245 DirecTV, 31 Cox, 730 HD 108 AT&T U-Verse, 138 Dish)
Radio Coverage: 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemyHere.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 1-point underdog. The over/under is 217.
Online StreamTNT | WWLS Sports Animal | Live Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Celtics: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • The Oklahoma City Thunder are in a weird situation. They’ve never been 0-3 before. The Thunder look to end that skid tonight as they host the Boston Celtics.
  • The Boston Celtics roll into town 2-2 on the year, not the super dominate record that we expected. They’re still one of the NBA’s best teams and the East favorite to lose to the Warriors in the NBA Finals.
  • Celtics have an impressive win over the Sixers but a questioning lost to the Orlando Magic.
  • Second-year man, Jayson Tatum leads the Celtics with 17.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Gordon Hayward, who’s coming off an ankle injury is only averaging 11.7 PPG. Shouldn’t mean much, though. There are seven Celtics averaging eight or more points per game.

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).
  • Tonight’s game is on TNT as well. It’ll be Marv Albert and Chris Webber on the call tonight.

SCOUTING THE CELTICS

  • The Boston Celtics are 2-2 on the young season, seventh in the Eastern Conference.
  • Last season, Boston went 55-27 on the year, finishing second behind Toronto in the East.
  • The Celtics lost to the Cavs in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals.
  • The Oklahoma City Thunder are 62-71 all-time against the Celtics.
  • Since relocation, the Thunder are 12-8 against the Celtics.
  • With games played at the ‘Peake, the Thunder are 5-5 against Boston.
  • OKC is 1-2 vs. Boston over the last three years. They lost last season after leading by as many as 18 in the contest.
  • Boston swept OKC last season for the first time since 2008-09.
  • INJURY REPORT:
    Aron Baynes (hamstring) is OUT.
    Jabari Bird (personal) is OUT.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Boston came on Jan. 5, 2014, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 119-96 (23-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (19 points) vs. Boston occurred during an 103-84 loss on March 29, 2009.

THUNDER INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson (ruptured patellar tendon) is out
  • Alex Abrines (eye) is probable.

NEXT UP

  • Oklahoma City will play the Phoenix Suns on Sunday at the Peake, a 6 p.m. tip off is scheduled.
  • The Thunder get their rematch with the LA Clippers on Tuesday night at the Peake to round up their home stand.

WHAT’S IN A NAME

  • Team owner Walter Brown personally chose Celtics over Whirlwinds, Olympians, and Unicorns (yes, Unicorns) as the nickname for Boston’s Basketball Association of America team in 1946.
  • Despite the warnings of one of his publicity staffers, who told Brown, “No team with an Irish name has ever won a damned thing in Boston.”
  • Brown liked the winning tradition of the nickname; the New York Celtics were a successful franchise during the 1920s.



Three Keys to the Game

Three-pointers

The Thunder are one of the worst teams in the NBA. In fact. They’re the worst. Easily. Oklahoma City has to get the threes to fall tonight. While that’s happening. You cannot let Kyrie Irving and Co. get hot from beyond the arc. That’s a recipe for disaster. Oklahoma City needs to just play the perimeter well on both sides to get a win tonight.

Free throws

Oklahoma City is shooting 66.7 percent from the free throw line, second worst in the NBA (Kings 65.7 percent). If you’re missing the gimmies, you don’t really deserve to win. Oklahoma City needs a really good free throw shooting performance against one of the best teams in the NBA.

Ball Movement

Ball movement isn’t always about assists, even though the Thunder are 28th in the NBA in assists per game (20.7). It just keeps the ball moving and forces defenses to adjust. You can have a handful of low assist games and still be moving the ball. However, usually winning goes hand-in-hand with sharing the ball. Look at all of the NBA’s best teams.

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Thunder Game Day #3: vs. Sacramento Kings

Oklahoma City Thunder (0-2, 0-0, home)

at

Sacramento Kings (0-2, 0-1 away)

Sunday, October 21 :: 6:00 p.m. CST :: Chesapeake Energy Arena (18,203)
TV Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27)
Radio Coverage: 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemyHere.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 10-point favorites. The over/under is 215.5.
Online StreamFS OK | WWLS Sports Animal | Live Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Kings: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • Oklahoma City is looking to avoid their first 0-3 start since the 2014-15 season. That’s going to be a lot of markers for this team. That said, the Sacramento Kings are in town and are a streak buster. So, that’s good.
  • Oklahoma City is coming off a 108-92 loss to the LA Clippers on Friday night. The score was not indicative of the actual game. The score was 93-90 late in the fourth quarter but the Clips closed strong. The Thunder did not.
  • Sacramento is 0-2 on the season and are giving up almost 140 points per game. They did get up 149 on Friday night.
  • Oklahoma City has won 17 of their last 18 home games against Sacramento.

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).

SCOUTING THE KINGS

  • The Sacramento Kings went 27-55 last season, 12th in the Western Conference.
  • This season, the Kings are horrible defensively, giving up 123 and 149 in their first two games of the season.
  • Oklahoma City is 145-86 all-time against the Kings.
  • Since relocation, the Thunder are 29-8 against Sacramento.
  • When the Thunder play at home, they’re 17-1 all-time against the Kings.
  • In their last 10 games, they’re 6-4 overall.
  • When the last 10 are at the Peake, Oklahoma City is 9-1.
  • INJURY REPORT:
    Bogdan Bogdanovic (knee) is out.
    Kosta Koufos (hamstring) is out.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Sacramento came on Feb. 15, 2011, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 126-96 (30-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (21 points) vs. SAC occurred during an 104-83loss on Jan. 7, 2015.

THUNDER INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson (ruptured patellar tendon) is out
  • Russell Westbrook (knee) is a game-time decision.

NEXT UP

  • Oklahoma City will play Celtics at home on Thursday night at 7 p.m.
  • Then, Oklahoma City will play the Pheonix Suns on Sunday at the Peake, a 6 p.m. tip off is scheduled.

WHAT’S IN A NAME

  • The Kings’ royal lineage stretches all the way back to the founding of the National Basketball League’s Rochester Royals in 1945.
  • Originally, the Kings were known as the Seagrams, you know the alcohol maker. That was the nickname of the Sacramento Kings, way back in the day (1923) when they were the Rochester Seagrams.
  • In 1945, a 15-year old by the name of Richard Paeth won an essay contest to name team.
  • The Royals retained their nickname after a move to Cincinnati in 1957 and became the Kansas City-Omaha Kings (soon dropping the Omaha) through a name-the-team contest in 1972.
  • The name remained unchanged when the franchise relocated to California in 1985.
  • Also, fun fact: Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce Jenner was drafted in the seventh round by the Kansas City Kings in 1977.



Three Keys to the Game

Rebound

Oklahoma City struggled rebounding on Thursday night, being outrebounded by a lot. Oklahoma City really struggled in the second half. The Thunder have to do better against the Kings tonight. If Westbrook plays, we know that’ll improve.

Free throws

It’s interesting how quickly the tide turned. Oklahoma City started out 9-of-10 but finished 15-of-27 from the free throw line. It sucks, sure. You have to be better. If you’re in the business of winning titles, you have to make your free throws. The Thunder were below average once against against the Clippers. It’s time for the Thunder to start making their free throws.

Bench

With three potential starters out, the Thunder’s bench is going to be short handed already. Everyone from Jerami Grant and Alex Abrines are going to be the two that need to step up tonight. If Westbrook plays, the bench will get a boost with Schröder going to the bench.

We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!

Thunder Game Day #2: at LA Clippers

Oklahoma City Thunder (0-1, 0-1 away)

at

LA Clippers (0-1, 0-1 home)

Friday, October 19 :: 9:30 p.m. CST :: Oracle Arena (19,596)
TV Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27)
Radio Coverage: 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemyHere.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 1-point underdogs. The over/under is 214.
Online StreamFS OK | WWLS Sports Animal | Live Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Clippers: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • The Thunder fell in their season opener but look to get back on the winning ways. Oklahoma City is set to take on the LA Clippers tonight, ending their short two-game roadie to start the season. Oklahoma City wants to get back on the winning ways.
  • Oklahoma City lost 108-100 but missed 13 free throws. They had their chances to stun the Warriors without Russell Westbrook.
  • It’s unknown at this point if Westbrook will play tonight. He’s listed as OUT in the Thunder game notes. However, that could change by tip-off.
  • Oklahoma City has not started 0-2 since their injury plagued 2014-15 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.
  • 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).

SCOUTING THE CLIPPERS

  • The LA Clippers went 42-40 last season and missed the playoffs, finishing 10th in the Western Conference.
  • The Clippers are a relative unknown this season but aren’t expected to do too much. Their win O/U is 37.5
  • All-time against the Clippers, Oklahoma City is 135-75.
  • Since relocation to Oklahoma CIty, the Thunder are 20-16 against the Clippers
  • In their last 10 vs. LA, Oklahoma City is 7-3 against LA.
  • Oklahoma City is 9-9 against the Clippers at Staples Center.
  • The Thunder are 3-3 over the last three seasons at Staples vs. Clippers.
  • INJURY REPORT:
    Alexis Ajinca (knee) is out.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Los Angeles came on April 15, 2009, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 126-85 (41-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (22 points) vs. LAC occurred during an 120-98 loss on Jan. 16, 2017.

THUNDER INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson (ruptured patellar tendon) is out
  • Russell Westbrook (knee) is a game-time decision.

NEXT UP

  • They’ll open their regular season home schedule on Sunday night against the Sacramento Kings.
  • Oklahoma City will play Celtics at home on Thursday night at 7 p.m.

WHAT’S IN A NAME

  • When the NBA’s Buffalo Braves moved to San Diego in 1978, the owners wanted to re-brand the team with a new nickname. They settled on Clippers, a popular type of ship during the 19th century.
  • San Diego had been home to the Conquistadors/Sails of the ABA during the 1970s.
  • Donald Sterling bought the Clippers during the 1981-82 season and relocated them to his native Los Angeles in 1984.
  • He lost all respect in San Diego but kept the Clippers name.



Three Keys to the Game

Rebound

Oklahoma City struggled rebounding on Thursday night, being outrebounded by a lot. Oklahoma City really struggled in the second half. The Thunder have to do better against the Clippers tonight. If Westbrook plays, we know that’ll improve.

Free throws

It’s interesting how quickly the tide turned. Oklahoma City started out 9-of-10 but finished 15-of-27 from the free throw line. It sucks, sure. You have to be better. If you’re in the business of winning titles, you have to make your free throws. Oklahoma City has to do better than what they did on Thursday night.

Bench

With three potential starters out, the Thunder’s bench is going to be short handed already. The Warriors are going to be this juggernaut and the Thunder are going to need to slay the beast without their superstars. Everyone from Jerami Grant and Alex Abrines are going to be the two that need to step up tonight. If Westbrook plays, the bench will get a boost with Schröder going to the bench.

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Thunder drop opener 108-100 to Warriors

There was no Russell Westbrook or Andre Roberson but the Thunder’s heart was on full display as the Thunder gave a big fight to the defending champions on Tuesday night. Oklahoma City fell 108-100 on opening night to the Golden State Warriors.

The Thunder were without their superstar and with the Warriors vaunted third quarter explosion on deck, it could’ve been easy to roll over and turn it just to Friday night as they’re short handed and already struggling but Paul George stepped up. Dennis Schröder stepped up. The Thunder found their groove and within minutes took their first lead of the contest.

The Thunder fought back from a 14-point deficit and took that 1-point lead. They would teeter-totter with the Warriors before Stephen Curry would hit a three, giving the Dubs the lead for good but it’s the act of the comeback that gives everyone hope. Sure, the Thunder loss but it’s how it lost that you have to account for. Oklahoma City’s third and early fourth quarters are what could be seeing from this team. Oklahoma City found something that worked and when you add in an annual MVP candidate, things are going to get really explosive.

The Warriors led for the first 27:56 of the game. The Thunder used a 22-9 run to get back in the game and take control. The lead given off a Schröder three was met with a bunch of uneasy moans from the Warrior’s fans who all but expected a walk over without two starters for the Thunder. Steven Adams added a lay up, giving Oklahoma City a three-point lead with 7:16 to go; Oklahoma City’s largest lead of the contest.

Though the Thunder would stay within 10 points for the rest of the contest, it would be free throws that did the Thunder in on opening night. Oklahoma City started 9-of-10 from the line but finished 15-of-27. It wasn’t like Adams was the one missing all of the free throws. It was a nice mix of everyone. The Thunder were 29th in free throw shooting last season. It reared its ugly head when it mattered most.

Oklahoma City will now go for their first win as they’ll travel to Los Angeles on Friday, Oct. 19 to play the LA Clippers. tip-off is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. at Staples.

Keys to the Game

Rebound: F

Oklahoma City found themselves being dominated on the boards. A guy named Kevon Looney had 10 rebounds off the bench for the Dubs. Adams had his 10 and Schröder had a career high nine but it wasn’t nearly enough. Oklahoma City has to do better job of blocking out and grabbing the boards.

Defend the perimeter: A+

The Warriors went 7-of-26 from three. Only eight times last season did the Warriors shoot that poorly. They were 3-5 over those games. Oklahoma City did a really good job making the Warriors earn it from beyond the three-point line. Oklahoma City held Kevin Durant to 0-of-5 from deep and Klay Thompson was 1-of-8.

Bench: B

Oklahoma City’s bench had 27 of the 100 points. That’s pretty solid, given two bench players had to step into the rotation. They did not shoot the ball well, though. They were 3-of-13 from beyond the three-point line. They didn’t shoot the free throws well, 8-of-12. There’s plenty of room for improvement. As the team gets healthy, the bench should improve.

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Thunder Game Day #1: at Golden State Warriors

Oklahoma City Thunder (0-0, 0-0 away)

at

Golden State Warriors (0-0, 0-0 home)

Tuesday, October 16 :: 9:30 p.m. CST :: Oracle Arena (19,596)
TV Coverage: TNT (245 DirecTV, 31 Cox, 730 HD 108 AT&T U-Verse, 138 Dish)
Radio Coverage: 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemyHere.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 13½-point underdogs. The over/under is 220½.
Online StreamTNT | WWLS Sports Animal | Live Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Warriors: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • The Oklahoma City Thunder are set to open their 2018-19 regular season tonight in Oakland against the hated Golden State Warriors at 9:30 p.m.
  • The Thunder split their season series with the Dubs last season 2-2, both winning on each other’s home court. You know, the usual way things are supposed to happen.
  • The Thunder are without a couple of key players but that won’t matter as it’s the 82 games and not just one. If this was college football, the season would be over. However, there’s no Mike Stoops so the Thunder could still go 82-0.

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.
  • Tonight’s game is on TNT only.

SCOUTING THE WARRIORS

  • The Golden State Warriors went 58-24 and were second in the Western Conference.
  • This season, the Warriors with the addition of DeMarcus Cousins, the Warriors are expected to go 400-0 (estimate).
  • All-time, the Oklahoma City Thunder are 137-110 against the Warriors.
  • Since relocation, Oklahoma City is tied with the Warriors 18-18.
  • When the games are played at the Oracle, the Thunder are 6-12 against the Warriors.
  • In their last 10 games, the Thunder are 3-7 against Golden State.
  • INJURY REPORT:
    DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles) is out.
  • Damion Lee (foot) is out.
  • Shaun Livingston (foot) is a game-time decision.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Golden State came on Feb. 17, 2012, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 110-87 (23-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (26 points) happened twice with the most recent occurrence coming on Nov. 3, 2016 (122-92 defeat).

THUNDER INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson (ruptured patellar tendon) is out
  • Russell Westbrook (knee) is out.
  • Steven Adams (back) is a game-time decision.

NEXT UP

  • Oklahoma City are still in California as they’ll play the LA Clippers on Friday, Oct. 19.
  • Then, they’ll open their regular season home schedule on Sunday night against the Sacramento Kings.

WHAT’S IN A NAME

  • The Philadelphia Warriors, named after the 1920s team that played in the American Basketball League.
  • They won the championship in the inaugural 1946-47 season of the Basketball Association of America.
  • The Warriors moved from Philadelphia to San Francisco after the 1961-62 season and retained their nickname.
  • When the team relocated across the Bay to Oakland in 1971, they were renamed the Golden State Warriors.



Three Keys to the Game

Rebound

Last season, the Oklahoma City Thunder needed their rebounding to win games. They were 35-11 when winning the rebounding battle. If Oklahoma City can find a way to out-rebound the Warriors, they may win this one.

Defend the three

Sure, the Warriors are going to jack up the threes. They’re going to do it at will. The Thunder need to force shooters off the three-point line and get themselves into contested shots. Oklahoma City’s defense is going to be their strong point tonight. If they don’t and the Warriors make it rain, it’s going to be a long night.

Bench

With three potential starters out, the Thunder’s bench is going to be short handed already. The Warriors are going to be this juggernaut and the Thunder are going to need to slay the beast without their superstars. Everyone from Jerami Grant and Alex Abrines are going to be the two that need to step up tonight.

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Thunder Preview: The Starters

The Thunder tip-off their regular season on Tuesday night against the Golden State Warriors and most likely will be doing it without Russell Westbrook.

For the Thunder, Their starters have always been solid, whether it’s still questioning Andre Roberson starting at the two-spot or the unending question of who’s starting at the four, the Thunder have three main starters who are locked for their foreseeable future. That’s a great thing. Roberson, I guess you could say is a fourth but with him out for at least two more months, we’ll leave it as a question mark.

Point Guard

Ahh, what a point guard. He snarls as much as is explosive. Russell Westbrook, the former Most Valuable Player is coming off back-to-back seasons of averaging a triple-double. You know, something that’s never happened before. Ever. In the history of the association.  While Westbrook may miss a game or two as he recovers from knee surgery, he’s going to be the starting point guard. It won’t be Raymond Felton, nor will it be Dennis Schröder. Though, Schröder will be the starter for when Westbrook misses some games.

Westbrook’s fire and drive really changes this team. It’s unlike something we’ve seen. While he says he only has one friend on the court, the basketball, we know he cares about one stat and one stat only: the win. He’ll push the Thunder to do their best and eat their hearts if they don’t. One thing that’s going to be questionable for the Thunder, is how is Westbrook’s knee? He’s pushing 30 and has undergone multiple knee surgeries. Westbrook is the one who opted for this and the iron man has barely missed any games outside of his meniscus tear, so it’s going to be interesting to see what he can do and how his “explosiveness” is still there. I’m assuming it’s still there. In today’s game, players prepare at another level than in the past. He’s also super healthy and takes his training very seriously.

Prediction: Westbrook starts 76 games; Schröder 6 games

Two-Guard

Andre Roberson had a set back. That is maybe a worst case scenario. In January, Roberson ruptured patellar tendon. He’s been out of contact basketball since then, approximately 9 months. It’ll be almost a full year before he sees the court again. Will his defensive ability still be there? It’s amazing at how much injuries could derail everything the Thunder have build post-KD.

In steps a trio of players from Terrance Ferguson, Hamidou Diallo and Alex Abrines. Who will get the start? It’s really unknown at this point. Diallo and Ferguson split time in the preseason but Ferguson struggled and Diallo didn’t as much. I’d lean to Diallo stepping into the position if I had my choice and leaving the reserve time split between T-Ferg and Abrines. I could be way wrong with how preseason minutes figured out. Neither T-Ferg or Abrines played in the last preseason game, really skewing everyone’s minutes. Ferguson averaged 30; Diallo 26; Abrines 18. Thunder head coach is a creature of habit and will most likely go with what he knows, in Ferguson.

Prediction: Ferguson starts 16; Diallo 13; Abrines 3; Roberson (if back by Christmas) 50

Wing

This is Paul George’s world and we are just living in it. As long as he’s healthy. He’ll start. He started 79 games last season. He missed three due to his back and expect him to start something similar again. Who’s going to step up in his place? That’s the big question. Look for Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot to step in and spell George if he has to miss games for whatever reason. He did start in George’s place in the first preseason game.

Prediction: George starts 80 games; Luwawu-Cabarrot 2 games

The Four

Patrick Patterson or Jerami Grant. Many were screaming for Grant over Carmelo Anthony at the end of last season. However, Patterson started all four preseason games and it appeared Grant struggled. He’s really no hidden gem anymore. Teams have a lot of tape on him and how to defend him. It also helps that Patterson, who was the projected starter last season, is healthy going through training camp.

Patterson, 29, never really found his niche last season with the Thunder. He only played 15.5 minutes per game last season and didn’t shoot it well from the floor but was decent from the three. His versatility hitting the three gives him the real edge over Grant.

Patterson struggled in the preseason. He went 6-of-22 from the floor and 4-of-16 from three. Each game found their way getting worse. He was 1-of-9 from the field and 0-of-5 from three in the finale. With Westbrook attacking and changing the game.

Grant wasn’t much better, going 11-of-35 and 3-of-10 from deep.

Prediction: Patterson starts 67 games; Grant 15 games

Center

The Big Kiwi. Steven Adams. The love of our lives. He’s going to start as many games as he can. He’s never played a full 82 games and honestly, I don’t expect him to ever. He’s too physical of a player and that’ll come with some random injuries. Maybe a twitch in the back or a roll of the ankle, common injuries for him. So, he’ll miss a game here and there. Last season, Adams missed six games, a second most in his career. With a decent help in Nerlens Noel, the Thunder may be more inclined to let Adams rest a game or two more, instead of him forcing himself to play through pain.

Prediction: Adams starts 77 games; Noel 5 games.

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Thunder Preseason Game Day #3: vs. Atlanta Hawks

Oklahoma City Thunder (1-1, 0-1 home)

vs.

Atlanta Hawks (1-1, 0-1 away)

Sunday, October 7 :: 2:00 p.m. CST :: BOK Center (17,839)
TV Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27)
TV Coverage: NBATV
Radio Coverage: 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemyHere.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 7-point favorite. The over/under is 216.
Online StreamFS OK | WWLS Sports Animal | Live Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Hawks: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • The Oklahoma City Thunder found their first win of the season with a 113-101 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.
  • Oklahoma City is set to play their annual game in Tulsa today. This time, against the Atlanta Hawks. Last year, the Thunder lost to the Rockets in their season opener at the BOK Center.
  • Since 2010-11, Oklahoma City is 2-5 at the BOK Center.

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 CageMichael 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).

SCOUTING THE HAWKS

  • Last season, Atlanta struggled mightily as they finished 24-58 on the year, worst record in the Eastern Conference.
  • The Hawks are 1-1 in the preseason, with a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies and a win over the Pelicans.
  • INJURY REPORT:
    Jeremy Lin (rest) is out.
    John Collins (ankle) is out.
    Taureen Waller-Prince (illness) is out.
    Daniel Hamilton (shoulder) is out.
    DeWayne Dedmon (ankle) is out.
    Justin Anderson (leg) is out.
  • The Thunder are 12-7 against the Hawks since relocation and 66-58 all-time.
  • Last season, the Thunder went 2-0 against Atlanta and have won four of their last five against the Hawks.
  • Oklahoma City has never played the Hawks in the preseason.
  • Oklahoma City is 6-3 at home against Atlanta since relocating from Seattle.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Atlanta is 13 points which occurred during a 107-94 win on Dec. 10, 2015.
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (11 points) vs. Atlanta occurred during an 99-88 loss on Dec. 23, 2008.

THUNDER INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson (ruptured patellar tendon) is out.
  • Abdel Nader (knee) is out.
  • Russell Westbrook (knee) is out.

WHAT’S IN A HAWKS NAME

  • In 1948, the cities of Moline and Rock Island, Illinois and and Davenport, Iowa—collectively known as the Tri-Cities at the time—were awarded a team in the National Basketball League.
  • The team was nicknamed the Blackhawks, who, like Chicago’s hockey team, were named after the Sauk Indian Chief Black Hawk.
  • When the team moved to Milwaukee in 1951, the nickname was shortened to Hawks.
  • The franchise retained the shortened moniker for subsequent moves to St. Louis and finally Atlanta in 1968.

NEXT UP

  • The Thunder finish their preseason slate against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, Oct. 9.



Three things to watch

Bench

Diallo and Co. are who I’m interested in seeing. I want to see more of an aggressiveness from what we saw on Wednesday night. That aggressiveness will lead to better efficiency shots. I don’t know why but I’m always wanting big things out of Diallo.

Efficiency is key

The Thunder struggled to shoot from the field on Wednesday. Let’s see better shot selection and that may see the Thunder in the win column, even though this game doesn’t matter.

Rebound

Oklahoma City has to win the rebounding battle tonight. Last season, the Thunder were 35-11 when they have the same or more rebounds as their opponents. They’re were 13-23 when they lose the rebounding battle. With no Westbrook to gobble of the rebounds, it’s going to be interested to see who steps up.

We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!