The Thunder continues to flirt with the .500 mark but Steven Adams remains out for tonight’s game against Denver. Opening tip at Chesapeake Energy Arena is at 7 p.m.
Oklahoma City took two-of-three on the east coast road trip, winning at Indiana and Philadelphia before losing to the Knicks on Saturday night. Denver is off an overtime win against New Orleans last Friday but prior to that, the Nuggets went 2-2 on a four-game road trip to the Eastern Conference. They beat Orlando 103-89, lost to Indiana 126-116, beat Detroit 103-84 and then lost to Boston 124-118.
Denver (16-13) has been an all-or-nothing team so far this season. The Nuggets have nine wins and nine losses by double-digit margins. That’s 18 of 29 games decided by 10+ points. One night they’re scoring 146 on the Pelicans, another night they’re losing by 17 to the Mavericks.
The unpredictability is familiar to Thunder fans.
OKC hasn’t won a game by more than six points since Kevin Durant and the Warriors took it on the chin 108-91 on Nov. 22, nearly a month ago. Since then, the Thunder is 6-6 with wins against the Spurs, T-Wolves and Pacers but losses against the Mavericks, Magic and Nets. Highs, lows, not a lot in the middle.
Despite losing starting forward Paul Millsap a month ago, Denver is just a half game out of first in the Northwest division. Millsap had surgery on a torn left wrist ligament and will likely miss extended time in the middle of the season.
Third-year center Nikola Jokic averages 15.4 points and 10.6 rebounds in a starring role and a pair of young guards – Jamal Murray and Gary Harris – are blossoming this season for the Nuggets. Harris is averaging 28.5 points on 60 percent shooting in his last two games.
Out of all the offensive weapons on Denver’s roster, reserve wing Will Barton might be the most dangerous. Barton is a 41 percent three-point shooter and at 15.8 ppg, he’s a legitimate Sixth Man of the Year candidate.
With Adams out for the Thunder, rookie Dakari Johnson will likely make his fifth start of the season. Russell Westbrook ended a 16-game streak of shooting below 50 percent from the field on Saturday when he went 9-for-18 against the Knicks. Westbrook shot 6-for-22 in the first matchup with the Nuggets in Denver.