The Oklahoma City Thunder will travel to the United Center on Friday night as they conclude their three-game Eastern Conference road trip against the Chicago Bulls.
After beginning the season with four straight losses, the Oklahoma City Thunder have become one of the hottest teams in the NBA, sporting a 16-3 overall record over their next 19 games. Meanwhile, the Bulls recently fired head coach Fred Hoiberg and replaced him with Jim Boylen, who is expected to be the team’s long-term solution at head coach.
Thunder complete epic 23-point comeback vs. Nets
The Thunder won their fourth straight contest on Wednesday night in dramatic fashion, erasing a 23-point deficit in a sensational fourth quarter against the Brooklyn Nets. Russell Westbrook posted his 108th triple-double to surpass Jason Kidd on the all-time list and Paul George scored 25 of his 47 points in a sensational fourth quarter, including a go-ahead three-pointer with 3.1 seconds left to send the Thunder to a 114-112 victory. Westbrook finished with 21 points, 17 assists and 15 rebounds and Steven Adams added 15 points and eight boards to help Oklahoma City complete the comeback.
The Thunder come in scoring 109.1 points per 100 possessions so far this season, which ranks 17th in the NBA. However, they’ve managed to carve out a +7.0 net rating (4th in the NBA), thanks to an NBA-best defensive rating of 102.1.
George is averaging 24.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.1 steals per game in his second season with the Thunder, and perhaps more importantly, he seems more comfortable playing alongside Westbrook this season. The Thunder have a chance to be very competitive and make a deep run into the playoffs this season, especially if they continue to defend at such a high level.
Bulls show better effort in Boylen’s first game
The Bulls lost their seventh consecutive game on Tuesday night, falling to the Indiana Pacers 96-90 and spoiling the debut of new Bulls head coach Jim Boylen in the process. Lauri Markkanen played well in his second game of the season, leading the team in scoring with 21 points and adding 10 rebounds on the night, while rookie big man Wendell Carter Jr. also double-doubled with 12 points, 13 rebounds and four assists in a losing effort for Chicago.
The Bulls have to be pleased with the way their big men. Carter Jr. has already flashed his potential as a rim protector on the defensive end, averaging 1.6 blocks per game in just 26 minutes of action. The rookie from Duke is averaging 11.4 points and 7.4 boards per game this season and is just three games removed from scoring a career-high 28 points in a loss to the Detroit Pistons. Meanwhile, Markkanen has returned and looked healthy through his first two games, while shooting 36.8 percent from three-point range on 9.5 attempts per contest.
While Fred Hoiberg may not have been the answer in Chicago, the Bulls will have to find a way to make some improvements on the offensive end under Boylen. The return of Markkanen should help and Bobby Portis also has a chance to return on Friday against Oklahoma City, but it is hard to hide the fact that the Bulls are scoring an NBA-low 101.5 points per 100 possessions so far this season. Meanwhile, they are allowing 110.8 points per 100 possessions on the defensive end of the floor (20th in the NBA), which give them the league’s third-worst net rating at -9.3.
- Bulls are 4-9 ATS in their last 13 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Bulls are 4-9 ATS in their last 13 games overall.
- Bulls are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 vs. NBA Northwest.
- Thunder are 11-2 ATS in their last 13 after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game.
- Thunder are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games vs. a team with a winning % below .400.
- Thunder are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 vs. NBA Central.