The Oklahoma City Thunder started out the season dominating on their home court, going 13-0 before losing two of their last three games at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Now with a 14-2 home record, the Thunder have a matchup tonight on their court against the Brooklyn Nets.
The Thunder are coming off a home loss in their last outing in a close battle with the Portland Trail Blazers after being up 16 points earlier in the game. The loss had to be one of the toughest losses of the season thus far. The fact that they were without Russell Westbrook was detrimental, but they still let that one slip away from them. They will be looking to regain some of the lost confidence tonight.
The Nets are one of the league’s worst road teams, so things should not be that difficult for OKC tonight. The key matchup will be Deron Williams against Reggie Jackson. Jackson has another chance to prove that he belongs in there as the starter while Westbrook gets healthy. Since he has been the starter, Jackson has averaged only 13 points on 39 percent shooting from the field — a surprise since his numbers were higher when he was coming off the bench and seeing fewer minutes on the floor.
OKC is 2-1 since their star point-guard went down, and they want to remain above .500 at all costs. They will have failed if Westbrook comes back to a struggling team, making it even more difficult for them to close out the season on the right foot. They want to be going into the playoffs with confidence, not surrounded with doubt. They will have to fall behind their star player, Kevin Durant, if they want to have a valid chance to improve as a team over the next few months. It has been apparent that if Durant struggles the Thunder will have a tough time winning games, even if Jackson and Jeremy Lamb are playing well.
For now, the Thunder are safe and own the best record in the NBA. This team has to take things one game at a time if they are going to be successful without Westbrook. There is no looking forward to tougher opponents and there is no looking down on less talented teams. They have to be prepared to get the best out of everyone because everyone will be looking to take advantage of the fact that OKC is a man down now. The Nets will take their shot at the best team in the Western Conference tonight, but I see them falling short. If OKC is going to win tonight then they are going to need solid games from Jackson and Lamb while Durant dominates.