Oklahoma City Thunder

Friday Game Previews: Heavyweight inter-conference clash in OKC; Red-hot Nuggets host the Jazz

#Westbrook #Simmons
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Philadelphia 76ers (39-22) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (38-22)

Where to Watch

Date: Friday, Mar. 1

Time: 6:30 AM IST

TV: Sony Ten 1

Location: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK

Game Preview

It was reported in the hours leading up to the game that Oklahoma City would be without MVP candidate Paul George.

MORE: George out for rematch vs 76ers

The All-Star forward is having a career year for the Oklahoma City Thunder, recording career-highs in points (28.6), rebounds (8.1), assists (4.3) and steals (2.3 - leading the league) while recording near career-highs in field-goal percentage (44.8%) and 3-point shooting (39.8%).

With George out, expect OKC to lean 2016-17 NBA MVP Russell Westbrook who is averaging a triple-double through 59 games - 22.5 points (lowest since 2011), 10.9 assists (leading the league), and 11.3 rebounds per game.

Despite the great success for the Thunder so far, they could get even better.

Their defensive rating of 105.7 (3rd-best) is without their great perimeter defender in Andre Roberson, who is reportedly set to return in a couple of weeks.

Westbrook's shooting seeing an improvement would also massively help the Thunder. He's currently shooting a career-low 65.6% from the free-throw line while shooting 26.8% from beyond the three-point arc (lowest since 2010).

Having said that, over the last four games, despite the 1-3 record, Westbrook's scoring and numbers have seen a huge improvement - 37.5 points on 54.4% shooting from the field and 40.5% from three-point land (4.3 3PM).

Coming to the Philadelphia 76ers, the franchise is at the tail end of a tough part of its schedule with the next two games against the Thunder and the Golden State Warriors. So far, they have already played the Pacers, the Thunder, the Rockets, the Nuggets (2), the Lakers (2), the Kings, the Warriors and the Spurs, going 10-6 in these past 16 games.

As per tankathon , the Sixers have the 9th easierst schedule in the league but they do have 12 of their remaining 21 games on the road.

Since the trade for Tobias Harris, the team is gone 5-2 with an offensive rating of 114.1 (5th) and a defensive rating of 109.2 (12th). The defensive rating could have been different if Joel Embiid had played all the games, but he has missed the first three games after the All-Star break with a knee issue.

Game Notes

  • The Thunder have a home record of 21-8 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
  • On the other hand, the Sixers have a road record of 17-14.
  • Oklahoma City is set to only miss Andre Roberson (Kneecap) for this contest.
  • Meanwhile, the Sixers are set to miss Zhaire Smith (Illness), Boban Marjanovic (Knee), Furkan Korkmaz (Knee). The duo of Joel Embiid (Knee) and Shake Milton (Finger) are reportedly game-time decisions.

Last Time They Played

Date: Jan. 20, 2019

Score: Thunder 117-115 76ers

Thunder: Paul George - 31 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals.

76ers: Ben Simmons - 20 points, 14 rebounds, and 9 assists on 8-of-12 shooting.

Box Score

Utah Jazz (34-26) vs Denver Nuggets (42-18)

Where to Watch

Date: Friday, Mar. 1

Time: 9:00 AM IST

TV: Sony Ten 1

Location: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO

Game Preview

Over the past month, the Denver Nuggets have been a team of streaks.

On Jan. 26, the team registered their first of a six-game win streak with the last victory in that streak sealing their coaching staff a trip to Charlotte for the All-Star Weekend.

However, since that game, they have lost three straight (@ Detroit, @ Brooklyn, and @ Philadelphia) but after those three straight losses, the team has gone on another streak, winning five straight.

The team's biggest strength is its depth (guards and forwards).

The most obvious and biggest reason for Denver's success is Nikola Jokic. The Serbian center is averaging 20.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 7.7 assists on 50.3% shooting. He has recorded twelve triple-doubles for the season (second-most) and ranks 4th in ESPN's PER (26.99).

The biggest team improvement for the team has been on the defensive end of the floor. From being ranked at 23rd last season, the young team's defensive rating is currently ranked 10th in the league.

For the Jazz, things seemed to gone up a gear since the New Year.

In the 19 games, the Jazz have gone 16-7, tied for the sixth-best record during this span. They have leapfrogged from 11th in the West before the new year tipped-off to currently being the sixth seeded squad in the West.

While their defense is tied 3rd in the league with a rating of 105.7 but their offense could use some work as their offensive rating of 108.8 is currently ranked 18th in the league.

According to tankathon, they have the second-easiest remaining schedule.

Game Notes

  • The Denver Nuggets have the best home court advantage in the league. They have won 27 of their 31 games at the Pepsi Center.
  • On the other hand, the Jazz have a road record of 14-16.
  • The Nuggets are set to miss two players for this contest - Trey Lyles (Hamstring) and Michael Porter Jr. (Back).
  • The Jazz will surely miss Dante Exum (Ankle) while the duo of Ricky Rubio (Hamstring) and Tony Bradley (Knee) are game-time decisions.

Last Time They Played

Date: Jan. 24, 2019

Score: Nuggets 108-114 Jazz

Nuggets: Nikola Jokic - 28 points, 21 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals

Jazz: Donovan Mitchell - 35 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.

Box Score

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