Preseason Game Day #7: vs. Bulls (in Wichita)

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Oklahoma City Thunder (4-2, 2-1 home) vs. Chicago Bulls (6-0, 2-0 away)

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Where: Intrust Bank Arena – Wichita, Kan.
When: 8:30 pm
TV:
 ESPN (206 Directv, 28 Cox, 602 AT&T U-Verse, 140 Dish)
Online StreamHere.
RadioWWLS Sports Animal 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemyHere.
Line: Thunder favored by 4.5. O/U – 188.5
Projected Lineups:

Thunder Bulls
PG:  Reggie Jackson  Derrick Rose
SG:  Jeremy Lamb  Jimmy Butler
SF:  Kevin Durant  Luol Deng
PF:  Serge Ibaka  Carlos Boozer
C:  Kendrick Perkins  Nazr Mohammed

Tonight is the final preseason bout for the Oklahoma City Thunder, as they travel north on I-35 to Wichita, Kan. to take on the Chicago Bulls. The fans of Wichita are in for a real treat as Derrick Rose returns this preseason and has been putting on a great show.

However, Oklahoma City has a pretty good player on their side of the ball, Kevin Durant. You may have heard of him Chicago. He was the three time consecutive scoring champion. Durant sat out last night in the loss to the Phoenix Suns, but will play tonight, as the game is live on ESPN.

Speaking about the Thunder falling to the Suns, Oklahoma City never led and trailed by as much as 21 points in the fourth quarter. Reggie Jackson struggled once again shooting the ball, shot 7-of-17 for 18 points. He finished with just four assists, same total he had at halftime.

Jeremy Lamb struggled in the first half but really put together a sound second half as Oklahoma City was able to close the gap to 67-61 early in the fourth quarter, but the Suns went in a 16-2 run over the next four minutes to end any hope for a Thunder come back.

The Chicago Bulls, with Rose back in the saddle, are one of two undefeated teams left in the preseason. Their lofty 6-0 record is no fluke. They beat the Indiana Pacers twice and destroyed the Memphis Grizzlies.

Their defense under Tom Thibudeau is once again one of the league’s best, and it’s big this preseason. They’re allowing just 84.5 points per game, which in turn is allowing the Bulls to win in blowout fashion. They’re winning by an average of 11.3 PPG, tops in the association.

Russell Westbrook, despite participating in practice, is still out for 4-6 regular season weeks. He didn’t even make the trip to Phoenix, nor will he be in attendance tonight. Thabo Sefolosha will not play tonight. He’s inactive due to scheduled rest. He was cramping last night, so this works out well.

Kirk Hinrich, who’s recovering from a concussion, is not close to returning and will not play tonight. He also did not make the trip to Wichita. Joakim Noah is still recovering from a groin injury and will not play. He has hinted at not being ready for their preseason opener. Former Thunder player, Nazr Mohammed is expected to start in his place.

Between the two teams, they’ve met 135 times. The Bulls lead the all-time series 69-66, dating back the Seattle SuperSonic days. Since moving to Oklahoma City, the Thunder own the 6-3 advantage, including three straight games. Oklahoma City is just 3-2 in the ‘Peake versus Chicago, but have been able to steal the last three games. Thunder hold a slight 3-1 advantage in Chicago, including last year’s victory 97-91 on November 8, 2012.

Keys to the Game

Attack the Paint
The Oklahoma City Thunder have really been dominate in the paint. They’ve been averaging 41.0 points per game in the paint. All of that, including 48 rebounds per game, have really been a key to the Thunder success this preseason. Wich Joakim Noah out, Oklahoma city should just attack the paint. They’ve been limiting the opponent to just 34 points per game in the paint.

Turnovers
Oklahoma City has been bad at turning the ball over this preseason. They’ve turned it over more than 19 times per game. They really fell victim to the turnover bug in the second half against Phoenix, with 13 in the half. Oklahoma City needs to limit those.

Shooting guards shooting

With Thabo Sefolosha sitting out, we’re going to see a lot of Jeremy Lamb and Ryan Gomes. That might also mean more Diante Garrett too. However, two of the three, Garrett and Gomes will be fighting for a last roster spot, and tonight’s game could go a long way with who makes the roster.

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