OKLAHOMA CITY CONSISTENCY
With their victory over the 76ers, Oklahoma City improved their record to 41-30, guaranteeing themselves a winning record for the 8th straight season. The Thunder are one of only three teams in the NBA to accomplish this feat, joining them with the Houston Rockets and the San Antonio Spurs. This stat is truly remarkable and speaks to the great consistency the organization has achieved since its arrival in Oklahoma City. Out of all the teams in the NBA, only three have had winning seasons for the past eight years, and the Thunder is one of them. Thunder fans should be proud of this stat.
DOWN LOW PRESENCE ELITE
Oklahoma City absolutely dominated down low against the 76ers. It out rebounded Philadelphia 54-25, which was the largest rebounding margin in Thunder history. The 76ers didn’t have an answer for the Thunder’s bigs all night, as Oklahoma City outscored Philadelphia 76-50 in the paint. Since the addition of Taj Gibson, Oklahoma City’s interior has gone from formidable to elite. Damontis Sabonis looks much more comfortable coming off the bench, and Gibson looks like a natural fit into the starting lineup. Enes Kanter scored 24 points with 11 rebounds on 8-of-9 shooting last night, helping to boost the second unit. With Adams, Gibson, Kanter, and Sabonis, Oklahoma City should be able to bully most teams down low.
TRIPLE DOUBLE WATCH
Russell Westbrook finished last night’s game with 18 points, 14 assists, and 11 rebounds. What made this triple double special, however, was his efficiency in doing so. Westbrook shot 6-of-6 from the field, and also 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. He became the first player in NBA history to finish with a triple double without missing a shot from the field or free-throw line. It was Westbrook’s 35th triple double of the season and 72nd of his career. If Westbrook can notch six triple doubles over Oklahoma City’s final 11 games, he will tie Oscar Robertson’s single season record for triple doubles at 41.
BRETT BROWN CAN COACH
I repeat, Brett Brown can coach. Even as the 76ers were getting pummeled throughout the second half, Brown continued to coach hard, even calling a timeout with just over three minutes left in the game with the outcome already clearly decided. The 76ers deserve some credit as well, for sticking it out with Brown and not giving up on him. It was clear when he arrived in Philadelphia that rebuilding was needed, but I doubt anyone in the organization expected “The Process” to be as rough as it has been. Brown has stuck it out through the tough times, however, and now the whole organization is beginning to reap the benefits. To this point in the season, Philadelphia has already won 16 more games this year than they did last year.
PHILADELPHIA COULD BE A MARQUEE GAME SOON
Things have been rough in Philly for a few years now, but they’re closer than people think to being a playoff team in the East. A lot of their success will depend on whether they can keep their best players healthy. Joel Embiid is out for the season with a knee injury, and is also now drawing comparisons to Greg Oden due to his inability to stay on the court. Ben Simmons is waiting in the wings for next season after losing this season due to a foot injury. If Simmons, Embiid, Dario Saric, and Jahlil Okafor all can stay healthy, Philadelphia will have a solid core to build their organization around. Watch out for the 76ers in a few years.