Bricktown Beat

Thunder vs. Rockets Game Preview: What to expect in second game of mini baseball set

Oklahoma City Thunder (8-11) vs. Houston Rockets (10-9)

Tip Off: 7pm cst

Where to Watch: FSOK

Overview:

Both teams are looking to assert their dominance on Wednesday after Monday’s 136-106 blowout performance netted the Rockets their second-biggest win of the season, winning by 30 points. For Oklahoma City, they are looking to take revenge on Houston, while the Rockets are looking to finish the job before meeting with the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday.

Injuries

Houston will be out of guard David Nwaba yet, again but a new face has been added to the inactives list—John Wall.

Oklahoma City will be running into the layup line with just 10 players at disposal. With the recent assignments of Pokusevski, Hall, Brown, and the injured Ty Jerome, the team is shriveled of the depth they have prided themselves on, and with guard George Hill out, the team will be calling on a sea of players. This testament holds up even more so when you factor in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will not be available for the game with a left knee sprain.

What to Watch:

Don’t Let the Rockets Takeoff From 3

Houston hit an astronomical 28 three balls in Monday’s matchup—which was good for a franchise record and just one shy of the NBA record. John Wall invigorated his teammates early on from downtown, with him gone the attention shifts towards guards Eric Gordon and Victor Oladipo, while still keeping tabs on bigs Christain Wood and Demarcus Cousins. John Wall initiated much of the offense on Monday, and it is expected that Eric Gordon will be running the show at point-guard tonight. Keeping Gordon away from easy penetrations is the start of where OKC can stop another shooting clinic. A high percentage of triples came off of the catch and shoot, so sticking onto perimeter threats all night will be pivotal too.

Christian Wood vs….?

Christian Wood took Al Horford’s lunch on Monday finishing with 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting, but it may have been far worse. Wood taking the ball right inside at Horford proved to be an issue for the 34-year-old big, as there was hardly anything from deterring Wood from walking in for an easy layup. Al Horford needs to stop Wood down low, and amongst all things, needs to hope Wood isn’t cashing in from deep.

If the 25-year-old can get things going against Horford, Isaiah Roby should be the next man up try to take Wood down. Isaiah Roby hardly grazed the court on Monday, playing just 12 minutes, but a combination of a smaller rotation and a potential change of pace at the five makes him the best option avaliable. Roby’s speed is on par with Wood, meaning he will be defended everywhere on the floor, and his up-tempo style may go nicely with this more youthful roster.

Bench Play

It is unclear how the starting five will formulate in the hours leading up to this game, but what is apparent is Theo Maledon will be starting at point-guard, while players such as Hamidou Diallo and Justin Jackson will be vying for the second starting gig.

Theo Maledon will have to show a great deal of patience in his first time running the point-guard spot, and his track-record overseas shows that he doesn’t rush into bad plays too often. Hamidou Diallo was one of the lone stars for Oklahoma City on Monday dropping 15 points in 15 minutes, and a performance to the same scale will be needed for a Thunder victory.

Outside of Maledon and Diallo, you do need to ask big things out of forwards Justin Jackson and Kenrich Williams, in addition to Isaiah Roby. Defense will one of the main keys to the game, and any sort of defensive production from any of those three guys will go a long way.

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