Knicks (6-6, 3-2 road) vs. Thunder (7-5, 5-2 home), 7PM CST at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, OK
Offensive Rating*: Thunder 110.5 (2nd), Knicks 104.0 (12th)
Defensive Rating*: Thunder 105.2 (18th), Knicks 103.3 (15th)
Simple Rating System**: Thunder 4.25 (6th), Knicks -0.33 (17th)
* an estimate of points scored or allowed per 100 possessions
** team rating that takes into account average point differential and strength of schedule. Zero is league average.
The Knicks come into Oklahoma City on three days of rest. They last played Tuesday night against the Charlotte Hornets, winning that one 102-94. The obvious main attraction for the Knicks is perineal All-Star Carmelo Anthony, who also missed a significant chunk of last season due to injury.
On the flip side, Thunder star Kevin Durant is expected to miss his fifth consecutive game with a hamstring injury. Indications are that the Thunder are playing it conservative and if he’s not back in the lineup tonight, the odds are good that he returns Sunday night versus Dallas.
Non-Obvious Player to Watch, New York: While Anthony is the star of the Knicks and five-time participant for Team USA, the player getting lots of national attention is rookie Kristaps Porzingas. His numbers aren’t eye-popping, just 12.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game in 25 minutes per night, but he’s become The New Hope. He scored 29 points and grabbed 11 boards against the Hornets.
Non-Obvious Player to Watch, OKC: Andre Roberson has quietly put together a nice season for the Thunder so far. His scoring numbers are up across the board and he’s playing much more confidently. The Thunder may actually need to increase his minutes in order to keep the defense from falling apart. He may be needed to help keep the Knicks’ perimeter players in check.
Random Fun Thing: Seems like a fine time to remind folks that Knicks forward Lance Thomas started 13 games for the Thunder last season, in which the Thunder went 4-9. All of those 13 games came without Durant and Westbrook. Contrast that to how the injury-riddled Pelicans, presently 1-11, have started the season. The Thunder had it bad last season, but it could have been much worse.
Pregame coverage: Erik Gee, John Rohde, and Desmond Mason have you covered starting at 6PM live from Flint Restaurant at the Colcord Hotel, one block north of the arena.
Postgame coverage: No postgame coverage tonight due to high school football. Jerry Ramsey and I will be back on postgame coverage Sunday evening after the Mavericks/Thunder tilt.