Oklahoma City Thunder vs Phoenix Suns – Start Time, Preview & Game Thread

Broadcast details:

Start time – 8:00 p.m. (CT)

Broadcaster – Bally Sports Oklahoma

Oklahoma City enters the game against an understaffed but not short of confidence Phoenix. The Thunder played against the Kings last night and were generally pretty solid despite all the uncertainty surrounding Covid protocols at the moment.

Oklahoma City played without key contributors like Josh Giddey and Tre Mann and still managed to carry the game until the dying seconds of the fourth quarter. There were weaknesses in the Thunder’s performance, but I think the team showed a lot of courage under difficult circumstances.

That being said, the Thunder performed pretty poorly last night. The bench unit that was so good against New Orleans stammered against Sacramento. There was little flow and Giddey’s absence was evident. Giddey’s game stabilizes the bench unit’s performance and keeps the reserves relatively competitive.

Without Giddey, the creation of the plan was quite stagnant. Both Theo Maledon and Ty Jerome struggled to initiate the attack and break through the opposing defense at the start of the shot clock. Oklahoma City was content with plenty of side passes and isolation scoring opportunities rather than using the energy of the ball to generate baskets.

The burden of the game was placed only on Shai’s shoulders and for the first time in a long time he was playing poorly. The Thunder was on the rise in the third quarter; Sacramento looked out of his feet and just couldn’t stop defensively. It was the perfect time to strike and build the double-digit lead.

Oklahoma City was up 4 and the shooting selection deteriorated towards the last five minutes of the third quarter. Both Gilgeous-Alexander and Dort started to force the action and take some tough shots that weren’t necessarily in the flow of the attack. Sacramento returned to the game and took advantage of all the positive momentum for the fourth quarter.

From that point on, winning the game was a challenge. The task was made even more difficult when the Thunder turned the ball three times in a row to start the fourth. Oklahoma City fought back valiantly, but it’s nearly impossible to win games when the team has extended droughts.

Phoenix, on the other hand, is on a two-game losing streak. The Suns were beaten on Christmas day by a resurrection Warriors of the Golden State. Phoenix played well in this game, but the game was decided by a strong ending stanza from Otto Porter Jr. Porter Jr drained clutch shots late and put the game aside for the team wearing Bay Area Blue. .

It was a similar story for the Grizzlies game. Phoenix played well again but their Covid absences really hurt the depth of their roster. DeAndre Ayton’s absence meant Steven Adams was able to dominate indoors and display one of his best stats of the season. The Big Kiwi had 13 points, 16 rebounds and 7 assists.

Phoenix will be looking to break that losing streak and keep the pressure on the Warriors in their battle for the No.1 seed in the Western Conference. Golden State has a slim lead right now and the Suns will be desperate for a favorable game in the first round of the playoffs.

The Suns have three former Thunder players looking to win their first ring. Chris Paul was arguably Oklahoma’s first basketball superstar and is beloved by fans. Paul was an integral part of “The Three Amigos” and provided us with beautiful and enjoyable basketball every night.

Paul did in Phoenix what he did in Oklahoma City. Chris Paul has raised the level of a young and exciting team to one that can win it all. It doesn’t matter if Chris Paul doesn’t win a ring, he’s one of the greatest leaders of his generation.

Cameron Payne was drafted by the Thunder in 2015, a place behind fellow Phoenix colleague Devin Booker. Payne was a fan favorite in Oklahoma City for his energy and for being Russell Westbrook’s dance partner.

Cam was traded by the team to Chicago and his career seems to be eluding him. He bounced around teams, played in the G League and in China before finally being signed to Phoenix. Coach Monty Williams, a former Thunder coach, still believed in Payne’s potential and brought him to the Suns.

Cameron paid off that confidence in full and became a leading reserve goalie on the bench. Payne’s career arc is different from a lot, but I’m happy to finally see him have the opportunity to play on a competitive team in an environment where the coaching staff are invested in his development.

There is a lot of common history between the two clubs and I expect tonight’s game to be very exciting. Chris Paul will face two young players in Shai and Luguentz Dort whom he mentored and helped grow. The intrigues are written for this match-up.

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