Another Trap Game For Thunder?
By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
Remember about two-and-half weeks ago when I was sounding the alarm about the Minnesota Timberwolves setting up as a trap game for the Thunder? It was coming right after a big home win against the Clippers and just before a big road game against the Spurs.
The Thunder didn’t heed the alarm and the Timberwolves sprung the trap.
This game tonight at Detroit looks a bit similar coming after a big road win against a really good Toronto team and coming before another big home game against the Clippers.
But there are also a couple of big differences. Number one, it’s on the road. Road games tend to focus players more on the mission, number two Reggie Jackson is involved.
They won’t make a big deal of it publically but veteran Thunder players are still upset with Jackson’s antics last season when he kept saying he wanted to be the team’s starting point guard (maybe you’ve noticed OKC already has a pretty good one of those) and even after being cleared from an injury by the medical staff refusing to play in a game despite being seen laughing and joking and running and jumping just fine during a shootaround.
So the Pistons should have the Thunder’s full attention tonight because of the first two reasons and because they all remember that Minnesota game.
The only thing that could throw a monkey wrench into things is if Billy Donovan decides Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook or even both should take this game off.
Based on what he’s said recently about resting players and based on how KD and Russ generally feel about a game being played and them not being involved, you have to figure that won’t happen tonight but the Thunder are not holding a shootaround today because of the back-to-back so there’s no way to know for sure until Donovan speaks to reporters 90 minutes or so before tipoff.
As far as the matchup itself goes both teams are playing well. The Thunder are actually probably playing their best basketball of the season with just about every win in this current eight game streak coming against playoff teams.
The Pistons are currently the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference and have won five iof their last seven games, all at home during season-long nine game homestand.
But the Thunder have always done well against Detroit, winning 12 straight games in which KD has been able to play. Neither Durant nor Westbrook were available for Detroit’s overtime win in OKC last season and that’s the only game in the last 13 matchups the Pistons have managed to win.
The Thunder have won five straight in Detroit and earlier this season at The Peake they blasted the Pistons 103-87, a game that saw Durant go off for 34 points and 13 rebounds. Neither of the Pistons top two players, Jackson and Andre Drummond, could do much against the Thunder.
Jackson was just 4-for-16 and Drummond, who was coming off a 19-rebound game, managed just seven boards against OKC and was dominated at times by Steven Adams.
The Pistons have improved enough to get themselves into the playoff picture but the Thunder are better too and if they come into this game focused, as they have been for much of this winning streak, then look for that streak to reach nine straight and look for Durant to extend his scoring streak to 60 straight games with at least 20 points. He is after all averaging 35.3 against the Pistons over his last four games against them.
Tipoff is set for 6:40 tonight and you can see the game on Fox Sports Oklahoma.