Opponent Scouting: OKC Thunder. (45-33)

Tonight at 8:00pm EST the Pistons will be on the road to face the OKC Thunder. The Pistons are on one day of rest after losing to the Pacers while the Thunder are on two days rest after beating the Lakers.

The Them:

The Thunder are very good, they’ve been in a bit of a free-fall lately and are kind of suffering from “Wizards syndrome” where they don’t get up for games because they are overly confident despite having not actually won anything yet.

The Thunder come into this game with the 18th offensive efficiency in the NBA and the 4th defensive efficiency in the NBA.

They are led by Russell Westbrook, who’s scoring efficiency has totally tanked but he’s still a great passer, great rebounder for his position (stat-padding jokes aside) and he has upped his defensive effort this season to the point where he’s actually a plus on that end. Paul George was a legit MVP candadite before the Thunder fell tot he back of the playoff race, he’s scoring 28 points per game on a TS% of 58.5%,, both career bests, dishing 4.1 assists and playing defense like no other and should be in the conversation for DPOY. Steven Adams is a excellent complimentary piece to those two, he is a great rebounder who would get more if he didn’t have to appease Westbrook, a tough defender, and skilled finisher inside.

Jerami Grant is a athletic and tough defender who knows how to hit spot-up looks and skulk for dunks. Terrence Ferguson is a second-year player who’s hyper-athletic and is shooting the ball pretty well. Dennis Schroder is the 6th man, he isn’t efficient as a scorer or all that good a defender but he can get his own buckets. Nerlens Noel has found a decent niche as a small-minutes athletic try-hard big-man off the bench. Raymond Felton is still here and he’s still overly confident and occasionally very good. Markieff Morris is here now, he’s another solid and tough forward.

This team is full of tough athletes who compete on defense. The thing with that, when their intensity falls they suddenly are not as terrifying a team. Paul George is great, but Westbrook isn’t as scary as before when he gets so few shots to fall. This team is still very good, but they are occasionally paper tigers.

Matchups to watch:

  • Pistons vs. Paul George: Yeah this isn’t good. George is brilliant, and the Pistons have nobody who figures to stand any shot against him. Bruce Brown and Wayne Ellington are too small, even GR3 is a little undersized for him. Paul George is probably going to score many points.

  • Blake vs. Playing: Still listed as questionable I think. Please come back Blake the offense misses you.

  • Andre vs. Adams: Two big, strong, athletic bigs. always fun to watch them compete.

  • Westbrook vs. RJax: Not saying they are on the same level, but first off, for how inefficient he’s been Westbrook is still a brilliant player who’s penetration can kill so the Pistons will need to work hard to contain him. Beyond that, there is some blatant bad-blood between the two.

  • Pistons bench vs. Getting right: Luke been off, Ish been off, the bench has just been bad the past few games. Especially if Blake is out again, they can’t afford the bench to lay a dud.

  • Pistons vs. Finishing it: JUST WIN THE GAME PUT THIS THING AWAY FOR MY HEART PLEASE.

So in conclusion…

Wink knowingly at your friends if:

  • Blake plays tonight and is showing out for his home.

  • The bench revives itself.

  • Andre Drummond is still taking names.

Run for the hills if:

  • Paul George starts hitting shots.

  • Westbrook is getting easy penetration.

  • The Pistons score single-digits in the first quarter.

Opportunities for me to look stupid:

  • Pistons win.