The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New York Knicks 105-84 on Thursday, Oct. 19 in front of the 300th sell out crowd in the 10 years of Thunder basketball. Here are five thoughts to Thursday’s win.
Defense will be the foundation of this team.
The Oklahoma City Thunder third generation is here. The defense created 26 turnovers against the New York Knicks. Switching was a big part of the Thunder’s defense which resulted in sometimes Westbrook guarding seven foot three Kristaps Porzingis. In those 26 turnovers, there was 14 steals five of those coming from big man Steven Adams. All preseason the big three of OKC have said they want to be the number one defensive team in the league and you can see why when it leads to them being so devastating on offense.
Russell Westbrook’s evolution is going to be lethal
Russell Westbrook shot the ball 12 times in the opening game against the Knicks. He had one shot from behind the arc. That ladies and gentleman Is called evolution. Now, will this minimum three-point shooting continue throughout the season? We’ll see, what we did notice is that Westbrook taking less three’s makes him more efficient and effective for the Thunder’s offense. Westbrook played 33:18 minutes scoring 21 points, 10 rebounds and 16 assists shooting 7-of-12 from the field at 58.3 percent. One question has been a constant since the acquisition of George and Anthony. Who will sacrifice out of those three? A lot of people have been saying George, and a lot have said Anthony, but it was Westbrook last night who showed he will sacrifice his game for his new teammates making sure he hit them when they were open sacrificing his shot for George and Anthony. Be careful what you ask for NBA fans Westbrook is evolving, and he is getting even better, and it’s terrifying.
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) October 20, 2017
Paul George and Carmelo Anthony are the help Russell needed
Paul George and Carmelo Anthony took a combined 43 shots making 17 of those. It wasn’t the most efficient night, but you could see what is going to happen this year with the offense. Westbrook got both guys plenty of open shots, but they just couldn’t finish.
“He’s always going to attract two (defenders), he’s always going to have the defense collapsing,” George said. “A lot of times I’m going to be catching it wide open and more times than not I’ve got to make them pay for it.”
“Offensively it’s on us to make those shots. I think for myself, if I can speak for PG, we’ve got to get used to those shots,” Anthony said. “We’re not used to having open looks like that, being wide open for shots like that. We’ve got to get comfortable with that and those shots. Those shots will fall.”
— NBA TV (@NBATV) October 20, 2017
Steven Adams is essential to this teams success
Steven Adams presence in the starting five is crucial on defense and offense with his size and his athleticism. On the defensive side of the ball, Adams had five steals and was able to switch efficiently. On offense, his pick and roll play with Westbrook was back to its absolute best as also was their connection on Westbrook backdoor lobs. Adams finished with 12 points, five rebounds and one assist shooting 5-of-5 field goals at 100 percent three blocks five steals on 29:36 minutes.
Big Kiwi’s night.
5/5 for 12 points and lots of defense. pic.twitter.com/56b3HIxUFS
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) October 20, 2017
Porzingis is so good
Kristaps Porzingis is an absolute problem for any team. At seven foot three, he’s unguardable. Porzingis had the Knicks In the game and competing in the first half scoring 19 points with nine rebounds shooting 7-of-14 from the field goals at 50 percent with one block. In the second half, Porzingis went missing, and the Thunder’s big three took over, and it showed with Porzingis going from 50 percent from the field down to 36.4 percent that was thanks to OKC stepping up their defensive pressure. Porzingis can lead this Knicks team to an eighth seed In the east if he can stay healthy.
— NBA Fantasy (@NBAFantasy) October 20, 2017
Bonus Thought: Darci Lynn was incredible
Because of the Big Three, we’re giving you a bonus thought and that is Darci Lynn was amazing. The current winner of this season’s America’s Got Talent dominated the halftime stage as barely anyone left their seats. Oklahoma City rarely captivates an audience with a halftime show and last night they did with pizzazz. I don’t think I’ve seen Red Panda, arguably the greatest halftime show in sports history, get this much respect. Petunia was our favorite. Hands down.We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!