If nothing else, Wednesday night in Oklahoma City was instructive. The Raptors won, but how they did it was both distressing (in that typical Toronto fashion) and then incredibly satisfying. A team like the Thunder, led by the maniacal Russell Westbrook, is a squad that attempts to punish their opponents physically. It can work if a team lets it work — and the Raptors did not let it work. They may have bent in letting the game go to overtime, but they did not break once they got into that extra frame.
And now the Raptors get to do it all over again. Thanks to a rare home-and-home series, the Thunder are now in Toronto to take on our beloved home team. One would assume, given OKC’s current four-game slide and Westbrook’s generally furious temperament, they’ll be a little ticked off. In fact, before the game coach Nick Nurse acknowledged as much. He’s had experience playing these sorts of 1-and-1 series in the D-League (though, Nurse smirked, they’re usually played in the same place to save on travel costs). He went on to say that he’s always told his teams “no splits” before admitting that the loser of the first game usually comes in “pissed off.”
I’d bet on a pissed off Westbrook. And since the Thunder are playing for their playoff seeding — and the Raptors are not; another thing Nurse admitted — I’d bet on the entire OKC squad coming in with some urgency. In that sense, this game will be instructive for the Raptors too. They don’t have a ton to play for tonight, except they want to continue to get ready for the playoff fire that’s coming.
Here are your updated, but not really updated, game details. And here’s the full preview from Sully Akbari. Now, let’s watch.
Where to Watch:
Sportsnet One at 7:30 pm EST
Toronto — Fred VanVleet, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol
Oklahoma City — Russell Westbrook, Terrance Ferguson, Paul George, Jerami Grant, Steven Adams
Toronto — Kyle Lowry (out — but day-to-day)
Oklahoma City — Andre Roberson (out)