Inauspicious debut for Brewer
Few people — myself included — expected Corey Brewer to suit up for last Saturday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Even fewer, if anyone, predicted that Brewer would be the first man off the bench, and, in essence, the one to soak up rookie Terrance Ferguson’s minutes.
All things considered, it wasn’t a disaster. But I’m sure that Brewer anticipated more than zero points, a rebound, a couple of steals, and four fouls in 12 minutes of action.
We did see some vintage Corey Brewer: yes, he still hustles. He still runs pretty fast. And, as you might expect from someone with the nickname “drunken dribbler,” he had a few plays verging on the edge of control.
There’s not much to be gleaned from a buyout player’s debut — especially when he had just joined the team earlier today — so Brewer deserves a bit of leeway. I’ll be interested to see how he plays tomorrow night against Houston with a practice under his belt.
Houston, do we have a problem?
Last time the Thunder faced the Rockets on Christmas Day, they won pretty handily. Not that it was a blowout or anything (the final score was a fairly close 112-107), but OKC seemed to control the game, its tempo, and dictated the style of play.
These two teams are quite different than they were when they played two-and-a-half months ago, though. Chris Paul, the ultimate game manager, has returned to the Rockets’ lineup. Clint Capela, who has been nothing short of a revelation for Houston, was hobbled and somewhere considerably below 100%.
And, worst of all for the Thunder, they’re missing their James Harden stopped.
On Christmas Day, down his point guard, Harden attempted 18 shots and only nailed seven of them. He also had 14 assists. Both are indications that Roberson made it tough on Harden and forced him to distribute more than he’d normally like to. Asking Josh Huestis to replicate what Roberson did is an impossible ask.
For these reasons, you can’t apply principles from the Christmas matchup to this game. The biggest advantage that OKC has is that it’s a home game. Still, it’s difficult to foresee a positive outcome for the Thunder unless Russell Westbrook and Paul George play their best games.
Remember: the West has been wild, so this could be a potential playoff matchup for the Thunder. Then again, you could say that about >50% of the Thunder’s upcoming games against conference opponents…
You know? I’m often way too serious when I write. Here’s an adorable palate cleanser for you, courtesy of Russell Westbrook: