Toronto Raptors - Oklahoma City Thunder Preview

Toronto Raptors - Oklahoma City Thunder Preview

As the undefeated Toronto Raptors come into Oklahoma City, the Thunder look to bounce back from their first defeat of the season.

alex-roig
Alex Roig
  • When: Wednesday, 04 November 2015 at 8:00 PM EST
  • Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK


Sometimes the hardest reality is the truth that is staring you in the face. You try to avoid it, but it follows you like sunshine peaking through the blinds in the early morning. As difficult as it is to accept, the hard truth is that the Oklahoma City Thunder will not finish 82-0 this season. There, it's been said. Let's move on.

The Thunder finally tasted the bitterness of defeat in Houston, as James Harden awakened from his off-season slumber to score 37 points and ignite a second half comeback. The Thunder was up by 14 when Russell Westbrook had to exit at the 9:24 mark of the third quarter with his fourth foul. From that point on, the Rockets outscored the Thunder, 25-8, in the third quarter to head into the fourth quarter with a five-point lead. The Thunder never recovered from that point on.

The Toronto Raptors and Thunder split their season series last year, with each team winning on their home court. As was the theme last season, the team the Raptors met at the beginning of the season was completely different than the team they saw in the second half of the season.

The Opponent

The Toronto Raptors come into this game undefeated, with a 4-0 record. They are top-10 in both offensive and defensive rating and feature a more balanced attack than in years past. The addition of DeMarre Carroll has allowed the team to be more aggressive on the perimeter, which hs translated to teams shooting more contested twos against them. The offense is sparked by Kyle Lowry who came into camp this season noticeably slimmer to combat the late season injuries that have derailed his last two postseasons. DeMar DeRozan and Carroll give the Raptors a duo that can compete on both sides of the floor. Up front, the Luis Scola/Jonas Valunciunas frontcourt gives the Raptors an inside/outside combination that has been successful so far this season. Off the bench, Terrence Ross, Cory Joseph, Bismack Biyombo, and Patrick Patterson give the Raptors one of the deepest teams they have ever had.

Probable Starting Lineups

Toronto Raptors

  • PG - Kyle Lowry
  • SG - DeMar DeRozan
  • SF - DeMarre Carroll
  • PF - Luis Scola
  • C - Jonas Valunciunas

Oklahoma City Thunder

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

3 Things To Watch For

  1. Turnovers - The Thunder is currently leading the league in turnovers at 20.5 per game. That is over two turnovers more than the 29th ranked team (Washington - 18.3). While turnovers have always been an issue with the Thunder, this season teams seem to be feasting on the live-ball turnovers and quickly turning them into points, as evidenced by the Houston and Orlando games. Live-ball turnovers don't allow the defense to reset, which decreases the Thunder's defensive efficiency.
  2. Spacing - Teams are starting to use the player defending Andre Roberson as a "roamer" on defense. On some plays in the first quarter, the Rockets literally had no one within 15 feet of Roberson. That extra defender can clog up the driving lanes for Kevin Durant and Westbrook or act as a tertiary defender against the Ibaka pick and rolls.
  3. Bench - The vaunted bench for the Thunder failed to show up against the Rockets when they needed them. D.J. Augustin started the game 4 of 4 with nine points in the first half, but became a turnover machine when the Thunder needed him in the third quarter after Westbrook left with foul trouble. Enes Kanter never got going against Clint Capela, and Kyle Singer was doing a great Perry Jones impression by just being out there. The reserves need to step up in this game as Toronto's bench can be highly effective at times.
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