Oklahoma City Thunder (5-4) vs. San Antonio Spurs (5-5)
Tip Off: 5:s00pm CST
How To Watch: FSOK
For OKC, this is their first game of their four game road stand after playing their last five games away from the Peake. In those 5 games they went 4 and 1 and now sit tied for 6th in the conference at 5-4. While the San Antonio Spurs are literally right behind them in the standings at 5-5. Comparing resumes, the Spurs have a lot of wins vs. top teams (Clippers, Lakers, Raptors, take that one as you will,) while the Thunder’s best win of the season has to be against the Irving-less Nets.
The Thunder have two players listed as out for tonight:
Ty Jerome (ankle)
Trevor Ariza (personal)
The Spurs will have four players out for tonight:
Demar Derozan (personal)
Devin Vassell (knee) is questionable
PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander———Dejounte Murray
SG George Hill———————–——-Lonnie Walker
SF Lu Dort————————-———–Keldon Johnson
PF Darius Bazley——————–——-Trey Lyles
C Al Horford————————–——-LaMarcus Aldridge
Who to Watch
Bazley started the first three games of the New Year with averages of 18/10/2 on 50% FG and 40% from 3. However; he cooled down in his last two, averaging 4.5 points/6 boards/1 assist on 26% shooting and 14% from 3 (1/7.) I don’t see that happening again on Tuesday, as he will be faced up on Trey Lyles at the 4.
Defensively, Lyles lacks the athleticism to handle Bazley while he has the ball in his hands, and offensively, Lyles is not going to push Baze around like other power-forwards have in the past.
If Darius gets the green light, getting open shots will not an issue, and if he starts hitting shots, Lyles will essentially have to be taken out of this game. This is Bazley’s perfect shot at a bounce back game.
Theo Maledon/ Isaiah Roby
Maledon dropped 20 points in his preseason matchup vs. the Spurs, but those numbers will need to be taken with a grain of salt as regular season basketball is a completely different animal.
Patty Mills will likely be Theo’s primary defender in this game, and though his on-ball defense is solid, once he is thrown into high-ball screens, it’ll be all she wrote for him.
Isaiah Roby starred in the preseason setting screens up high for his rookie counterpart, and the expectation is he will see time at the small-ball five in this game. Jakob Poetl is assuming the backup center for the Spurs, and his makeup is perfect from Roby’s perspective. He’s a sluggish, non-athletic big who will not be able to anchor his way to the rim.
Maledon/Roby screens will account for a lot of points off the bench if utilized on Tuesday as screens will result in a wide open pullup for Maledon, a Roby finish, or an open pass-out three.
Honorable Mention- Hamidou Diallo
Lonnie Walker and Keldon Johnson
Johnson is a lanky, 6’6″ 210 lb. wing who can stop you at the three or four, averaging 0.8 steals and 1.2 blocks a game. For Walker, he is 6’5″ at 205 lbs. making him a perfect defender at the two or three as he is averaging near one block and steal a night. This tandem will give struggles for Thunder players at the 2-4, as if one player gets hot at one of those positions, watch out for Coach Pop to apply one of these two as a bandage to stop the scoring runs.
Their production does not just come on defense as Walker and Johnson are both averaging a tick over 13 point a contest (13.1) with three point percentages reaching the 40% mark for both players. Consistency on offense has been an issue with both of these players, but with Derozan out, much more shots will be given to this pairing.