The Oklahoma City Thunder, sans Russell Westbrook, will look for a positive start to their NBA season when they travel to a rebuilding-mode Utah Jazz.
The Thunder finished top of the pile in the Western Conference last season, but their playoffs took a wicked turn when they lost Westbrook to a knee injury in the first round of the playoffs against the Houston Rockets.
The pressure will be on Kevin Durant to perform for the Thunder in the absence of Russell Westbrook
OKC just about managed to see off the Rockets without Westbrook, but breaking down the Memphis Grizzlies proved to be too much of a tall order, as their season came to a grinding halt.
Now, the Thunder will be without Westbrook for what is expected to be the opening month of the season, but the club's other superstar Kevin Durant believes the side is better equipped to cope without their premier guard, and eventually go all the way.
"We're very confident that we can (win the championship)," Durant said. "We're not going to come in and say, 'We can't win it all, we don't have enough.' We're a confident group of guys.
"We feel we're in a good position. That's all that really matters. If we come in here thinking we lost momentum or anything like that, that will mess us up. So, we just try to focus on each and every day and we'll be fine."
The Jazz are on the other end of the scale, after sending four of their five top scorers away while inking deals for several young players with potential.
This season is likely to be all about patience for Utah as they look to the likes of Enes Kanter, Jeremy Evans and Alec Burks to help out Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors.
"It's going to be a challenge for sure but it will definitely be exciting," Hayward said. "We are ready to take the next step and we can't wait for the season to get started. It's going to be quite a journey for this team."
Utah Jazz will be without first round pick Trey Burke after the point guard underwent surgery for a fractured right index finger. John Lucas III will shoulder the playmaking burden with coach Tyrone Corbin expecting the young bunch to contribute in one shape or form.
"We will be looking to have Gordon and Derrick make big plays for us this year on both ends of the court," Corbin said.
Where to watch
The game is scheduled for a 6.30 am IST start with no live coverage.
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