OKC ThunderDome

Beyond…Waaaay Beyond…

Game 16 Preview: Thunder at Indiana

Tipoff Time: 8:00PM EST

Game Preview
Potential injuries:

Jeff Green – day to day
Kevin Durant – day to day

Jeff Foster – day to day
Roy Hibbert – day to day

Thus far this season, the Thunder are an anemic 5-4 at home, but 5-1 on the road.  I’m wondering if their team concentration is actually higher on the road, when they know that they won’t be the beneficiaries of the OKC crowd and referee whistles.  There’s something to it, because a lot of the great teams from the past have said that they actually prefer the road games to home precisely because there are no distractions and it is a galvanizing experience.

What needs to happen tonight?

The Thunder’s task will be to have 48 minutes of focus:

  • In the past two road games, the Thunder have held opponents to 84 and 81.  The Pacers are not a high scoring team, so the Thunder will have an easier job than against the Mavs.  Four quarters of defense needs to be the overall team focus.
  • The Pacers are a very good rebounding team, averaging over 43 per game, almost a quarter of those coming off the offensive glass.  This strength makes up for their lack of good shooting (Pacers only average 99 per game) and keeps the opponent from getting out and running.  The effect is a strong defense (only allowing 96 per game).
  • The Pacers are another team searching for an identity, so it will be incumbent on the Thunder not to let them find one.  The Thunder will need to collect themselves early, and not allow the previous game’s collapse to impact this one.  The long season is all about momentum, and it is important to reverse the negative momentum as quickly as possible.
  • Keep in mind that the Pacers had one of the great offensive bursts in history.  Against the Nuggets, they shot 20-21 in the third quarter, scoring 54 points.  When they get it together, their shooting can be formidable.  The Thunder need to make it tough on them defensively.
  • The Pacers won’t be short on confidence, as their team is rounding out and they enjoyed a resounding defeat of the Miami Heat.  The Thunder need to play at their own pace for the game.  Westbrook should run when he can, but better still to focus on offensive half-court sets.
  • Talent-wise, the Thunder are superior, but lately with Green and Durant healthy, the struggle has been to find the right mix.  Hopefully tonight will help in straightening out the lineup issues.

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