Oklahoma City Thunder (2-1) - Denver Nuggets (4-1) Preview

Oklahoma City Thunder (2-1) - Denver Nuggets (4-1) Preview

Northwest division rivals battle it out in Oklahoma City as the preseason quickly approaches its end.

Alex Roig
  • When: Sunday, 18 October 2015 at 7:00 PM EST
  • Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK

The scene that played out in the Oklahoma City Thunder's last preseason game was very familiar to what happened last season. No Kevin Durant, no Russell Westbrook,  no Serge Ibaka,  and no Enes Kanter. The result, a 94-78 loss, was to be expected, regardless of whom the Memphis Grizzlies trotted out onto the court. The offense screeched to a halt as Memphis focused all their attention on Dion Waiters, who was the only Thunder player with the ability to create and score off the dribble. Unlike last season, though, the players who sat out the past game only did so to rest or for precautionary reasons due to minor injuries. 

The Thunder won the season series 3-1 last year against their Northwest Division rivals, the Denver Nuggets. Each of their games featured the Thunder in their various forms last season. The first meeting, which happened to be the Thunder's first victory of the season, saw the Thunder feature Ibaka and Perry Jones as their go-to players. The second meeting was more of the same, but ended in a loss. The third meeting was a high scoring affair that featured Durant scoring 40 points. And the final meeting, a Thunder blowout, came during the Westbrook triple double streak. 

The Opponent

The Denver Nuggets find themselves in what can likely be termed as a soft rebuild. They dealt last season's leading scorer, Ty Lawson, to the Houston Rockets after Lawson was charged with drunk driving this offseason. They drafted a point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay, whom they hope to use in the Russell Westbrook mold as an attacking point guard. Last season's first round picks, Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris, are still developing, but have shown flashes of potential. They have a young stretch center in Nikola Jokic who has the potential to be like another Nikola (Mirotic). The future of the Nuggets is looking pretty good. The present, on the other hand is a different story. They are in that stage in their rebuild where they have young players with potential and veterans who are past their prime. 

Probable Starting Lineups

Denver Nuggets

  • PG - Emmanuel Mudiay
  • SG - Gary Harris
  • SF - Wilson Chandler
  • PF - Kenneth Faried
  • C - Joffrey Lauvergne

Oklahoma City Thunder

  • PG - Russell Westbrook
  • SG - Andre Roberson
  • SF - Kevin Durant
  • PF - Serge Ibaka
  • C - Steven Adams

3 Things To Know

  1. More minutes of Durant and Westbrook - Thunder head coach Billy Donovan has already mentioned that Durant, Westbrook, and Ibaka will all play more minutes in these last two games as they prepare for the regular season. All three have played about 22 minutes in the three games they have played. 
  2. Enes Kanter is available - Kanter is available to play in this game after recovering from a slight ankle sprain. 
  3. Mudiay vs. Westbrook - Denver would like Mudiay to be like Westbrook. Westbrook doesn't like anyone to try and copy him. This does not bode well for Mudiay.