Oklahoma City Thunder vs Croatia

Summer action continues as the Oklahoma City Thunder take on Team Croatia at 3:30 PM EST at the Thomas and Mack Center/Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas, Nevada on the campus of University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Catch it live on NBATV.

How to Watch

What: Team Croatia vs Oklahoma City Thunder

Where: Thomas and Mack Center/Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas, NV

When: Tuesday, July 9th at 3:30 PM EST

How (TV): NBA TV

Team Croatia (Away)

Head Coach: Veljko Mršić

Tournament Record: 0-2

Projected Starting Five: (G) Roko Rogic - (G) Roko Badzim - (F) Pavle Marcinkovic - (F) Zeljko Sakic - (C) Antonio Vrankovic

Last Game versus BKN

Top Performers:

  • F Zeljko Sakic - 11 PTS | 11 REB | 1 AST
  • C Antonio Vrankovic - 12 PTS | 8 REB | 2 BLK
  • C Marjan Cakarun - 11 PTS | 2 REB | 3 AST

The Croatian National Basketball team was the first of two national sides to be invited to compete in the NBA Summer League. While they are not fielding their top side, mostly due to the contractual obligations of their best players to the NBA, they are fielding a capable and interesting group.

So far in the tournament, the Croatian side has proven to be a disciplined and mature outfit. They've been able to score in the paint, but their overall lack of athleticism has hindered their competitiveness against the opposition.

Croatia won't get a break when they take on the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder are an up-and-down team in their own right, led by the likes of Canadian Luguentz Dort and Slam Dunk Champion Hamidou Diallo.

Oklahoma City Thunder (Home)

Head Coach: Dave Bliss

Tournament Record: 2-1

Projected Starting Five: (G) Jawun Evans - (G) Hamidou Diallo - (F) Deonte Burton - (F) Devon Hall - (C) Kevin Hervey

Last Game versus UTA

Top Performers:

  • G Hamidou Diallo - 20 PTS | 5 REB | 1 STL | 1 BLK
  • C Kevin Hervey - 11 PTS | 12 REB | 2 BLK
  • F Donte Grantham - 7 PTS | 6 REB | 2 STL | 2 BLK

The Thunder are coming off of a disappointing loss to the Utah Jazz. While they hoped to outrun the Jazz, they were beaten at their own game as Utah was able to outpace them in field-goal attempts 80 to 66.

They will have the athletic advantage going into this match against Croatia. Speed is on their side with the likes of Hamidou Diallo and Donte Grantham leading them, though they will have to show their class against the disciplined Croatian offense.

The Thunder were out-rebounded in their last match against the Jazz by five. They'll have an even tougher time against a big Croatian team. If they can't take advantage in transition, they'll be unlikely to have many second-chance opportunities.

What's At Stake?

The current round-robin format will help determine seeding going forward for both of these teams.

Croatia is looking to gain their first win of the tournament as they are currently 0-2.

The Oklahoma City Thunder, 2-1, hope to continue their winning streak after an overtime win against the Sixers.

Croatia Needs to Enforce Their Game Plan

Not many knew what to expect of the Croatian national side when they were scheduled to compete in the 2019 NBA Summer League. A mix of known veterans and upcoming prospects, they were certain to put on a show. They haven't yet been able to show their strength.

Croatia can be a talented high-post passing team with a number of enforcers on the glass and in the post. However, due to the speed of their opponents, they've not been able to make up for their performance off of misses.

Misses are an issue for Croatia. Out of 21 attempts from three-point range against Brooklyn, Croatia made only two. They have one of the slowest paces in the Summer League, but their inability to match that with efficiency is leading to their lack of success.

The Thunder Need to Show Toughness

The Oklahoma City Thunder are a collection of upstart, energetic young prospects hoping to make an impact for their side. However, they've shown a distinct lack of organization and inability to convert on their three-point shot.

The Thunder were outrebounded by a similarly sized Utah Jazz team last time out. The Croatian side they'll be facing thrives in the paint, so they'll have to show that they have the toughness to grind it out against them.

Should their shooting woes continue, the Thunder need to contend on the glass. Centre Kevin Hervey showed he was up to the challenge on the glass with 12 rebounds against the Jazz, but nobody else stepped up. They can't resort to a one-and-done offence.

Croatia Roster Notes

Croatia has no roster changes of note.

Oklahoma City Thunder Roster Notes

The Oklahoma City Thunder have no roster changes of note.

X-Factors: Antonio Vrankovic (CRO) vs Kevin Hervey (OKC)

Two of the top young centers in the tournament will face off as Antonio Vrankovic and Kevin Hervey square off to battle in the post and on the boards. Both have been beasts down low for their team, but the winner of this match up is likely to lead their side to victory.

Antonio Vrankovic

Center | 7-0, 269lb (213cm, 122kg) | Pine Crest, HS | Duke | Free Agent

      Per Game Table
Season School Conf G MP FG FGA 3P 3PA FT FTA ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2017-18 Texas-Arlington Sun Belt 33 32.2 7.4 16.5 2.3 6.9 3.4 4.2 2.3 8.5 2.2 1.2 0.6 2.7 1.8 20.5
Career Texas-Arlington   115 27.7 5.5 12.5 1.8 5.5 2.8 3.6 1.9 8.0 1.9 1.0 0.5 2.1 1.9 15.5
Provided by Sports-Reference.com
 

Vrankovic was little-used in his time at Duke University, however, his ability in short stints was valuable to their side. While he only played ten minutes in Croatia's opening match, he was efficient in twenty minutes against the Brooklyn Nets.

Vrankovic outplayed Nets starting Centre Jarret Allen, giving him trouble on the defensive end and posting an impressive 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks on 6-11 shooting.

Hervey will have the strength advantage against Vrankovic, but the slim Croatian will hope that his savvy will help him to outsmart the energetic Thunder center.

Kevin Hervey

Center | 6-7, 210lb (201cm, 95kg) | Bowie HS | Texas-Arlington

      Per Game Table
Season School Conf G MP FG FGA 3P 3PA FT FTA ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2018-19 Duke ACC 17 5.2 0.4 0.8 0.0 0.0 0.5 0.9 0.8 1.3 0.4 0.1 0.3 0.2 0.9 1.4
Career Duke   49 5.5 0.6 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.6 0.4 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.9 1.5
Provided by Sports-Reference.com
 

Kevin Hervey has spent a good amount of time with the Oklahoma Blue, the Thunder's G-League affiliate. He has refined his game since his college days and has developed into a small-ball center instead of an in-and-out power forward as he was in college.

Starting at the center in his last three games, Hervey has been brilliant. Not only has he been able to help push the pace for the Thunder, but he's been relentless on the boards despite his height disadvantage.

In a one-on-one rebounding battle, it is hard to bet on Hervey to beat this Croatian front line. He will have to use his movement to find some grittier rebounds in order to stay relevant on the glass.

Team Croatia at Oklahoma City Thunder Predictions and Odds

If you are in New Jersey you can bet on the NBA Summer League on BetStars. Here are the latest odds for Croatia vs OKC Thunder. Good luck!

Point Spread

Sportsbook Croatia +18.5 OKC Thunder -18.5 Link
BetStars NJ -333 +230

* 21+ | NJ only | If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER

Total Points

Sportsbook Over 168.5 Under 168.5 Link
BetStars NJ -118 -118

* 21+ | NJ only | If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER

Money Line

Sportsbook Croatia OKC Thunder Link
BetStars NJ +500 -1000

* 21+ | NJ only | If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER

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