The Thunder travel to Denver without Aaron Wiggins who is out due to injury, to face the Nuggets.
Beware the Joker
A player that has become a matchup nightmare in the NBA is Nikola Jokic. His size and unique skill set allows him to lead the league in triple-doubles and double-doubles this season. Very active on the boards, Jokic also ranks second in most rebounds per game.
In their first meeting, the Thunder limited Jokic to only 13 points. Also kept his playmaking ability to a minimum as he only recorded three assists along with three turnovers.
“There’s just not a lot of guys in the NBA that pass the ball like (Jokic.) There’s not a lot of teams the cut with the precision that they cut with because they know if they’re open, they’re going to get the ball,” Coach Daigneault said.
Pass and Play
The Nuggets rank third in the league in assists per game, averaging 27. This team’s bread and butter has become sharing the ball. Denver looks for multiple players to score and gets versatile looks at the bucket through their ball movement.
Don’t Underestimate the Bench
As the Thunder have been plagued with injuries, the importance of bench production has only grown. Many players have stepped up for Oklahoma City to take advantage of the additional minutes, including Olivier Sarr. Against the Kings, this two-way player finished with 12 points off of five-of-eight shooting.
The Nuggets bench is coming off an impressive performance as well. In Denver’s triumph against the Trailblazers, the bench collected 76 points. Jamychal Green led all scorers with20 points, while Demarcus Cousins and Bryn Forbes contributed 19 and 17 points respectively.
These teams have faced each other twice this season and the Thunder are 1-1 against Denver. In both contests, Oklahoma City’s defense held the Nuggets to below 100 points. The Thunder’s perimeter defense was on full display by holding Denver to average 32.8 percent from deep over both games.