1. They are different. It’s only 8 games so there is still no sense at all in drawing too many conclusions at this point, but one conclusion I am drawing for sure is that this team is different from either of the previous two teams. The roster is different. The flow is different. The feel is different. The energy is different. It all remains to be seen if the results are also different– we have a long way to go before we start making any proclamations in that department, but one thing I know for certain– the made changes that are going to make an actual difference and not just a deck-chairs-on-the-Titanic difference. My theme for the entire year thus far has been how seemingly overnight the roster has become so much more involved all around– we are essentially playing a 10 man rotation right now and all 10 guys are consistently contributing– or at least getting opportunities to contribute. The ball is moving and shots are there to be had. Last night Abrines stepped up and helped bring us back; tonight TFerg and Grant got going early and then everyone just sort of joined the party. Kicking the living crap out of an opponent, on the road, on the second night of a back to back is really impressive. The variable is making shots– when the Thunder shoot the ball like that it’s going to be lights out almost 100% of the time. So I understand that level of shooting performance will be rare. But it wasn’t just the hot shooting; the entire approach to the game tonight was impressive for OKC. Excellent.
2. Of course it always starts with your top guys. Russ and PG are leading the way. PG hasn’t been fantastic offensively yet, but he is really locked in everywhere else– he’s working hard on both ends and he is the tone-setter on defense. When he isn’t scoring he’s at least making more plays/assists this year than he did last year. He isn’t just standing and watching. It makes total sense and it certainly appears as if PG is more relaxed and comfortable this year. Through six games, Russ may be going next level. Now, he did still make some same ole’ mistakes at the end of the Boston game– but with that exception, he has been completely invested defensively and his decision-making on the offensive end has been vastly improved. The chemistry on the team as a whole is better and Russ appears to be trusting in his teammates more. He did briefly get caught up in some one one one shenanigans tonight late in third quarter, but it really only resulted in one stupid three point attempt. And if you lead your team to a 20+ point lead I can live with one stupid three point attempt. I think Russ and PG really tried to incorporate Melo last year as the third amigo– but in all honestly he probably shouldn’t have even been the eighth or ninth amigo. Now, things look more natural– with both leading in their own way.
3. Hard not mention our old friend Scott Brooks tonight. I feel for him right now. The Wizards look like a train wreck. Just a total mess. There is really no reason for it either. I’m not as high on their talent level as some others as I feel both Wall and Beal are at least a tad overrated, but for them to be 1-7 with several blowout losses under their belts already seems completely unacceptable. A slow start is one thing; they look they’ve quit before they started. It’s weird. They provided absolutely zero resistance in the first half tonight. They were coming home off a bad road trip and local rumors are swirling about Brooks’ job security. That is precisely when you expect a team to shift into high gear and give you a top notch effort. Instead, they just allowed the Thunder to steamroll them. I’ve always felt Wall was a poor man’s Russ- namely because he just doesn’t play with near the same effort or intensity on a nightly basis. There is just something about him I find uninspiring and the team seems to adopt that general malaise. Brooks had his flaws, but he was certainly the right coach for the Thunder at the right time. The time eventually expired, but one thing we always knew is that the players respected him enough to give great effort. If they ever did lay an egg, they responded quickly. Not sure what’s going on in Washington right now, but if Brooks has indeed “lost” this team already it is more of a reflection on the players than the coach.
4. I think we can officially blow off the 0-4 start. Not saying the team doesn’t have flaws or things that will eventually come back to bite them, but in terms of freaking out over losing the first four, I think we can put that to bed. I knew they’d eventually get back to .500, but I was worried it might take them 8-10 games, something like that. To do it in the minimum of four is encouraging; especially considering the last two were road back to back. Everyone can exhale now. So, exhale. But don’t exhale and then get out the streamers. It’s not time to party yet. They have beaten the Suns, Clippers, Hornets, and Wizards. It’s a nice bounce back and I’ve especially liked HOW they’ve done it, but I’m also not doing cartwheels in the living room quite yet. It’s nice that they get the weekend off and we can look forward to seeing them Monday against the Pelicans- back at The Peake on Monday. Getting back to even is nice; but the reality is they are also just one loss away from dipping back below .500– it’s not a holding pattern the Thunder want to stay in for long. The schedule remains manageable for the next couple of weeks; would be nice to expand this streak and being establishing themselves near the top of the West pecking order.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!