The Thunder are bottom-three in the league for points per game (98.6), three-point percentage (30.9%), and free-throw percentage (72.4%), and assists (20). But they rank first in protected first-round draft picks for the next decade.
All jokes aside, this team can hit the glass. They lead the league with 48.4 rebounds per game, thanks in part to rookie shooting guard Josh Giddey averaging 7.4 boards (Giddey also leads the team with 5.6 assists per game).
The Thunder play a utilitarian brand of small-ball that is driven by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. 'SGA' is averaging 20.4 points per game on career-low shooting percentages. Since it's not even Thanksgiving yet, I would chalk up the cold start as an outlier.
On the other hand, the Hawks have won four straight games since they returned home from a dreadful west coast road trip. Hawks coach Nate McMillan said his team needed to make up ground this past week, and they've done just that.
Over the past four games, Clint Capela is tied for most rebounds per game in the NBA (14). His return to form has brought praise from McMillan as well as his point guard, Trae Young. McMillan called him the team's "anchor," while Young called him "one of the smartest big men in the league."
The Thunder injury report only lists Gilgeous-Alexander (sprained right ankle) as questionable. It's no surprise the Hawks are without De'Andre Hunter (right wrist surgery) and Onyeka Okongwu (right shoulder injury recovery) until late December or early January. But Bogdan Bogdanovic (right quad contusion) is questionable for tonight.
SI Sportsbook has the Hawks listed as 10.5-point favorites. I share that sentiment. The Hawks are rolling right now, and the Thunder have lost their last two games. These two teams are at different stages of progression, so the Hawks should take care of business this weeknight.
Even if the Hawks win their fifth straight game tonight, they will only be .500 on the season. Couple that with the unexpected loss of De'Andre Hunter to wrist surgery and it's low-key a dreadful start to the year. This team cannot let up off the gas against an easier opponent. Take this game and get ready for the Spurs in San Antonio on Wednesday night.