By Randy Renner
Thunder head coach Billy Donovan plans to rest Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka for at least one pre-season game but it won't be tonight in Tulsa.
Since it is a "home-away-from-home" game with a sellout crowd of Thunder fans expected Donovan told reporters after practice yesterday he isn't planning on changes things up just yet.
"Yeah we'll probably start the same way we have the last couple games and then we'll probably look at some different lineups, rotations and that kinda thing."
Durant and Westbrook have each averaged 20-22 minutes in the first two games and that number could increase a little bit tonight. Donovan will also try to give everyone as much of a chance to play as he can.
"I've been trying to keep certain guys on the floor for at least six minutes at a time if not longer where those guys can get into a good rhythm and a good flow," he said. "Especially for guys that are coming in in the second quarter and they've got to sit the whole first quarter or guys coming in in the third quarter having to sit through halftime, I'm trying to give them an extended period where they can play together."
This might also be a game where you see Donovan and the coaches tinker with some different looks, like Westbrook and D.J. Augustin being on the floor together along with Dion Waiters or Anthony Morrow and perhaps Durant sliding to the power forward spot. They've also been working on various new situational plays.
Meanwhile the Mavericks, tonight's opponent in Tulsa, won't look very much like the Mavs team we saw last season.
Center Tyson Chandler is playing for the Suns now and point guard Rajon Rondo is in Sacramento. Forward Chandler Parsons is still rehabbing from surgery and so is Wesley Matthews, though he did go through contact drills in yesterday's Mavericks' practice. All-Star Dirk Nowitzki is being rested and also won't play in Tulsa.
These games in the first half of the pre-season schedule are all about the Thunder anyway, not who they're playing. Coaches don't even put together much of a scouting report on opponents since the main starters and rotation players are usually limited in minutes for both teams.
For Thunder fans in northeast Oklahoma it will provide a chance for them to see their team up close and within easy driving distance the only time this season. For fans staying home in OKC you'll actually be able to watch this game on TV, it's the only one on the pre-season schedule being televised by Fox Sports Oklahoma.