The Oklahoma City Thunder will have to work extra hard on the boards Sunday night, as they will be without Steven Adams.
Adams, the Thunder’s leading rebounder, is reportedly out with a left knee contusion against the Milwaukee Bucks, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman.
Adams reportedly missed two games last week because of the same injury, per Mussatto. The Thunder will play the Bucks at 7 p.m. EST.
Through nine games this season, Adams has put up career-highs in rebounds per game (10.1) and assists per game (2.0). He is ranked 13th in the NBA for rebounds a game.
With Adams out, Nerlens Noel will likely be tasked with being the primary defender on reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. It takes multiple defenders to contain Antetokounmpo, as it’s best to collapse in the paint and make him pass.
But with his strength and size, Antetokounmpo is a tough match. There will be times where he gets inside and draws a foul or scores.
Noel will have to be the Thunder’s anchor in the middle on defense, and that will include keeping Antetokounmpo off the glass. Antetokounmpo is averaging a career-high 14.1 rebounds per game.
But Antetokounmpo has also improved as a facilitator. He’s averaging a career-high 7.2 assists and 34.2% usage percentage, according to Basketball Reference.
With the Thunder not having their best rebounder in Adams, it’ll be important for the rest of the team to contribute. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Schroder are the Thunder’s next best rebounders, as both are averaging at least 5.0 rebounds a game this season.