Bulls-Thunder Preview

Oklahoma City Thunder Status Check:
Record: 40-15
Division: 6-3
Conference: 28-8
Home Record: 24-4
Last 10 Games: 6-4
Streak: Won 1
Last game: 127-111 win over Minnesota
PPG: 106.7 (1st)
Opponents PPG: 98.0 (16th)
Offensive Rating: 112.7 (1st)
Defensive Rating: 103.5 (8th)
Pace: 93.8  (8th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .532 (3rd)
Turnover Percentage: .147 (29th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .731 (19th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .262 (17th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .282 (1st)
Opp. eFG%: .476 (4th)
Opp. TO%: .138 (16th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .199 (14th)
Leading scorer: Kevin Durant (28.9)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Oklahoma City Injury Report:

The Bulls bounced back from an ugly loss against the Heat with a win over the NBA’s worst team. But it’s back to the top of the standings for the Bulls, as they face the second place team in the West. Oklahoma City is just 1-3 in their last four games, but they’ve won 24 of 28 games at home this year.

Four straight solid defensive performances for the Bulls come at the right time, as they now need to try and slow down the best offense in the league. Oklahoma City is first in offensive rating, at 112.7 and first in points per game (106.7). They’re led by Kevin Durant, the NBA’s leading scorer (28.9) and Russell Westbrook, the league’s seventh highest scorer (22.9).

The Bulls haven’t allowed more than 87 points in their last four games, and that includes a game against Miami and the scoring robot that is LeBron James. The Thunder though, have scored more than 100 points in 14 of their last 18 games. They scored 119 against Houston and then exploded for 127 in their most recent time out.

Westbrook dropped 37 points on 22 shots, to go with seven rebounds and nine assists, in that 127-111 win over Minnesota that snapped the Thunder’s three game skid. Durant recorded 27 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. KD’s numbers have fallen over his last ten games, as he’s averaging 25.8 points (fallen for Duran’t high standards), but he is hitting 48.5 percent of his threes. Kevin Martin, as usual, scored an efficient 19 points off the pine and although Serge Ibaka didn’t score much (six points) he grabbed seven boards and blocked three shots. Actually, Thabo Seflosha was the only Thunder starter to not grab seven rebounds–he brought in six.

As a team Oklahoma City hit 9-14 from deep (64.3 percent). The Thunder have five guys that are playing significant minutes that have hit better than 42 percent of their threes over the last ten games (Durant, Westbrook, Martin, Ibaka and Seflosha). Oklahoma City is tops in the league in three point percentage, shooting 39.2 percent on the year. The Bulls have given up the second fewest threes to opponents, and are third when it comes to opponent percentage from beyond the arc (33.6). The three point line is going to be key for the Bulls, because Chicago has no chance if they get into a shootout with the Thunder.

The Bulls finally reached 100 points in their win over Charlotte, the first time they reached the century mark since February 4. It was truly a team effort, with eight different players scoring in double figures. Taj Gibson led the way, scoring 17 points on 8-11 shooting. As a team, Chicago shot 50.6 percent while holding the Bobcats to 33.3 percent. The most spectacular stat was that the Bulls had 37 assists on 42 made field goals. Everyone who played more than six minutes recorded at least one assist. Joakim Noah was again the dime-dropper, with Kirk Hinrich out, dishing eight assists.

Ball movement will obviously help against the Thunder, but this game is going to be drastically different from the victory over Charlotte. Oklahoma City is eighth in defensive rating (103.5) and, as discussed earlier, first in offensive rating. Charlotte is 28th in offensive rating and 29th in defensive rating.

The Thunder have given up 113.0 points per game over their last four contests, with three of those ending as defeats.

Luol Deng scored his third highest total of the season in November against the Thunder, dropping 27 points in a losing effort (his two highest totals have come against the Knicks). Rip Hamilton scored 20 points in that game, also tied for his third highest total of the season. At this point, Rip scoring 20 is the equivalent of finding a four leaf clover. Hamilton hasn’t scored 20 points since mid-January.

Chicago actually had the lead going into the fourth quarter of that November match-up, before being outscored 31-19 in the final quarter. Durant scored 24 points to lead Oklahoma City and Ibaka dropped 21.

The Bulls are again down to their third point guard. Kirk Hinrich will once again be out with his elbow injury. He has played just once in February, while missing nine games. Kirk playing is like finding all of the four leaf clovers.

That means it will fall on Nate Robinson and Marquis Teague to try and stop Westbrook. God help us all (but mostly, help them).

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