Game On: Thunder @ Hornets

Published: December 1, 2012

Keys to the Game

1. Create Turnovers Without Fouling

The Thunder turnover rate is the highest in the NBA, but when these teams met two weeks ago, the Hornets were unable to put any pressure on the Thunder’s perimeter trio. Instead, Oklahoma City got into the paint at will and had wide open perimeter looks. On a somewhat positive note, the Thunder only took 20 free throws, which is well below their season average, but one could argue that they were getting such wide open looks that they didn’t have to attack the basket and that is why they didn’t get to the line. As Royce Young of Daily Thunder said when we had him on the podcast, “Russell Westbrook is the head of the Thunder snake. Take him out and you can kill this offense.” That starts with turning him over, something the Hornets will have to do to win this game.

2. Make Serge Ibaka Leave the Paint

The last time these two played, the Hornets played Davis and Lopez up front and that allowed Serge Ibaka to stay in his comfort zone. Ibaka is a terrific weakside defender and has the strength to shut down guys like Davis on the ball. Ryan Anderson presents a whole different matchup for Ibaka and the Hornets have to exploit that matchup tonight. Even if Ryno isn’t hitting, taking Ibaka out of the paint will create space for Vasquez and Lopez. When the Thunder go small and put Ibaka at center, Monty has to trot out the Anderson and Smith duo so that he does not shut down the paint.

3. Be Efficient Offensively

Look, some teams require you to do this minor thing well or that little well and if you do it, you will give yourself a chance to win. But the Thunder are on another level. To defeat them, you have to play close to perfect basketball. They have lost only 4 games this year. The first one was on opening night and was kind of flukey. The other three saw the teams that beat them had to play A+ games offensively to take down the Thunder. The Celtics were out of their mind from deep, the Hawks controlled the offensive glass, and Memphis had high scoring, efficient nights from Rudy Gay and Jerryd Bayless, which is not the norm for them. Plain and simple, this Hornets team will have to catch fire and it can’t just be one guy. It will take top level games from 3-4 guys, similar to what we saw in Los Angeles at the beginning of this week. If that happens, the Hornets could get a victory that would give them a huge boost of confidence moving forward.


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