The NBA is back and so are the Thunder. Oklahoma City will play its first game of the season tonight, at home, against the New York Knicks.
Both teams changed a lot during the summer, and if this year the Thunder are aiming for a championship run, the Knicks most likely will end up missing the playoffs, again.
Last season Oklahoma City won both games:
Oklahoma City at New York 112-103
Oklahoma City vs New York 116-105
Keys to the Game
Confidence – The Thunder are without a doubt the better team, but this iwill be the first game of the season and (almost) anything can happen, especially when there are so many new players on the floor together. It will be important for Oklahoma City to play with confidence but they should not underestimate New York.
Chemistry will still be work in progress and probably from time to time you might see some ugly basketball (i.e. iso basketball, silly turnovers) but fans have to keep in mind that the season is 82 games long and building a team is a process.
Emotions control – It will be an emotional game. For the first time in six and a half years, Carmelo Anthony will play against his beloved New York Knicks while Thunder fans will finally see Enes Kanter again, but he will return as an opponent. Anthony said yesterday that this game will definitely close his New York’s chapter, so there is no doubt that it might get a little weird.
Spread the floor – One of New York’s biggest weaknesses is their defense. The Knicks don’t have anyone who can properly guard the perimeter and Oklahoma City is loaded with players that can hit from behind the arc. In my opinion, the easiest way to hurt NY will be running a pick and roll on the top of the key. Run it with Westbrook and Adams while Anthony, George, and Abrines are spreading the floor behind the three points line. If the Knicks don’t help on the pick and roll, Westbrook will have an open lane to the basket, if they instead do help, he will be able to find open players who can easily score from every position.