OKC hosts the rebuilding Denver Nuggets this evening at Chesapeake Energy Arena. OKC enters the game 2-0 with wins over San Antonio and Orlando. Denver is in rebuild mode standing 1-1 with a season opening win against Houston and a double digit loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Nuggets finished 30-52 last season and in Mike Malone have their third head coach in a year. Most see the Nuggets as a bottom four team in the West as the season moves along.
Since the departure of Carmelo Anthony to the NY Knicks, the Nuggets have been a team without a star. This should no longer be the case as the development of rookie point guard Emmanuel Mudiay evolves being as the Ty Lawson era in Denver has ended. Otherwise the Nuggets are a mixture of youth and some older role players. Young players such as Kenneth Faried, Joffrey Lauvergne, Will Barton, Gary Harris, Nikola Jokic and Jusif Nurkic combined with vets Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Randy Foye and Jameer Nelson should round out the rest of the rotation.
OKC comes off its astounding comeback win in Orlando as Durant and Westbrook combined for 91 points with 62 points coming in the second half. OKC’s defense against the Magic was abysmal in the first half as Orlando got to the rim whenever they wanted in what was basically a layup drill. Defense was much better in the latter stages of the game with OKC going with small ball lineups and more quickness.
One would think OKC would want to get off quickly and make this easy on themselves with a road game looming in Houston tomorrow night. Durant and Westbrook both played heavy minutes in Orlando. This evening marks the beginning of a stretch of four games in five nights with Toronto at home on Wednesday and at the Chicago Bulls on Thursday. Tough stretch.
Westbrook – Mudiay matchup should be fun to watch. Otherwise OKC is listed as a twelve point favorite. Start fast, play hard defensively, move the ball, get Serge Ibaka out of the gates and limit the minutes Durant and Westbrook play should be the Thunder talking points in the team pregame meeting.