Game 17 Preview: Thunder at Houston
November 28, 2010
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Tipoff: 7:00PM EST
Previous results: Thunder 116, Rockets 99
The Thunder are coming off a superb 4th quarter and OT finish against the Pacers (to be sure, after 3 quarters of ineptitude) and are growing in their resilience. Westbrook is proving capable of carrying the team for long stretches when necessary, but has been still able to recognize when it is time for others to step up. Tonight continues a long stretch for the Thunder when they’ll be away from home. This may be a blessing in disguise, since they ar e6-1 away from home and only 5-4 in the confines of their own gym.
The Rockets have continued to struggle this year, currently standing at 4-11. If you look at their games this year, you can see that they’re competitive in almost all of them, but frequently have come up short. They aren’t to be taken lightly.
Keys from last game:
- Prior to their first game, Coach Brooks had set a goal of at least 20 assists, and the mandate seemed to work because the team totaled 26, with Westbrook getting 12 of those. It highlights a strange dichotomy – in the past few games, when the Thunder have racked up huge assist numbers, they’ve played strong through 3 quarters but then abandoned the passing in the 4th, either scraping by or losing outright (Mavs). Conversely, against the Pacers they only had 14 team assists, but were able to come back in the end.
- The Thunder did a good job of managing their resources, with no player going for more than 35 minutes. Repetition of this statistic will be favorable for the team for the long term, as we’re getting into the slow grind of the season where all the teams are grouped together.
- The Thunder would do well to have a similar rebounding effort from their Pacers win. They grabbed 57 team rebounds, and their ability to control the boards allowed them the opportunities for a comeback.
- Offense should not be an issue in this game, so if Jeff Green is still hurt (gr0in) from his spill in the closing moments of the Pacers win, it would be prudent to rest him. This game will be the type that can afford guys like Harden better minutes to contribute.
- Be wary of the quick start by the home team. The Thunder don’t have to match their energy, they just can’t let them get out to a big lead too quickly. Weather the storm, be patient, and eventually their talent and skill will catch up as the Rockets’ energy fades.
Every game affords a new test; tonight’s will be the management of team resources in the course of a bunch of away games grouped together.