When Andre Roberson went down injured for the season, the Oklahoma City Thunder floundered about for a while. Roberson was the key fifth starter with their four stars, a lock-down, elite defender who the Thunder had figured out how to use (or, hide) on offense and not hurt them. Without Roberson, the Thunder looked lost.
Until they brought in Corey Brewer (who was bought out by the Lakers and waived). The solid veteran wing has stabilized that starting unit. Which is why when Brewer sprained his knee in the final game of the season Wednesday night, there was concern. Good news for OKC, he should play, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
When Brewer is out on the court with the rest of the starting five (Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, and Steven Adams) the Thunder essentially play their opponents even (-0.5 net rating). (For comparison, that same for with Roberson was +14.2 per 100 possessions).
Oklahoma City will face a team that counters their strengths in the first round: Westbrook and the Thunder want to attack, the Utah Jazz funnel everything into the future Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert and challenge those attacks. OKC should be able to slow Donovan Michell and the Jazz offense down, but scoring will not be easy. This will be a physical series.
And the Thunder will need Corey Brewer in it.