Thursday, March 30, 2023
Sports Gaming Monitor

NBA Preview: Brooklyn Nets (39-29) at Oklahoma City Thunder (33-35)

Since the NBA All-Star break, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Brooklyn Nets have taken similar paths.

After the break, the Thunder dropped their first five games. The first four games the Nets lost,

Since then, Brooklyn has won five of its six games. Oklahoma City as well.

When the Nets and Thunder play each other on Tuesday in Oklahoma City, something has to give.

Brooklyn and the New York Knicks are tied for fifth place in the Eastern Conference going into this game, three games behind Cleveland.

The Thunder are one of many Western Conference teams in contention for the play-in tournament.

Both teams’ surge has been centered on defense. Both the Nets (105.7 points allowed per 100 possessions) and Thunder (108.4) have a defensive rating in the top four during their most recent hot streaks.

Even though the Nets are soaring since trading away Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in separate deals in early February, center Nic Claxton said that the team’s victory over Denver on Sunday, which they won 122-120, does not quite qualify as a statement victory.

The Nets have changed, especially in terms of their defensive identity, thanks to the acquisitions of Dorian Finney-Smith and Spencer Dinwiddie in the Irving deal and Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson in the Durant deal.

Although the most recent outcomes have been favorable, it has taken some time for things to come together.

The final of Brooklyn’s five road games is on Tuesday.

The Nets will play 10 of their next 13 games at home following their matchup with the Thunder.

The Thunder did not make many changes before the deadline, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s return has been a big part of their recent success.

Gilgeous-Alexander has returned after missing five games and is shooting 54.7 percent from the field in three games while averaging 35.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 3.0 steals.

Gilgeous-Alexander has missed the second night of two consecutive games during this stretch.

In addition, rookie Jalen Williams has played a significant role in Oklahoma City’s recent success, averaging 22.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.3 assists while shooting 60.7% from the floor in his last four games.

This season, the teams have met twice, the second on Tuesday.

On January 15, Brooklyn hosted the first match, which Oklahoma City won 112-102.

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