1. The Thunder made that look easier than it should have been. You might wonder what I’m talking about considering Phoenix is arguably the worst team in the league. While that may very well be true, they are still an NBA team and they do have a few highly talented young players. The scheduling quirk that had us playing them 3 times over the first 15 games of the season set up for some law of averages-type stuff. Beating the Suns is not impressive. Not at all. On its own. Dominating the Suns three times in three weeks, twice without Russ, once without Russ, TFerg, and Abrines on the road? That’s pretty impressive. Or at the very least you could say it’s “mature.” Totally professional approach tonight; just like the previous two games this week. OKC was locked in from the outset and never allowed a young opponent to get any sort of emotion or momentum flowing. Bear in mind the Suns destroyed the Spurs in their most recent game prior to our arrival. This was good stuff tonight.
2. The chain of command tonight was perfect. Pretty much the ideal pyramid you’d want to see in this situation. Without Russ and two other members of the backcourt rotation the only prayer the Thunder really have is if it starts with PG. He was sensational tonight. So far this year he’s living up to my pre-season prediction that he will be in the MVP conversation this year. Right behind PG tonight was Adams. For the second time this week he just absolutely schooled the first pick in the draft. Ayton has a couple of moments tonight, but they were dwarfed by the dominance of Adams. The Big Kiwi has made the missed shot a top weapon in the Thunder arsenal. There was a prime example of this tonight… Phoenix trimmed the lead to 6 with a little over 3:00 remaining and it appeared as if the Thunder might be running out of gas. Out of the timeout, the Thunder missed a shot, but Adams was there for the rebound and put-back. Huge play. The next time down the floor he finished an and-one pick and roll from Dennis. That was really your game right there. He sucked any remaining life out of the Suns in back to back trips. PG put the final nails in their coffin down the stretch, but those two possessions by Adams were massive. So you had PG and Adams putting in top notch performances a 1A and 1B and then you had Dennis do enough as a third option— he wasn’t amazing tonight, but effective. After that, all they needed was one or two more guys do be decent. That came in the form of Grant and TLC (his first real action of the year). That was all it took. Lead from the top, trickle down, workmanlike win.
3. I’m glad Felton is back. I like him and I enjoy watching him play. He seems like a good dude and with so many young pups on the roster it has to be nice for the coaches to have a savvy vet voice on the bench. He’s kind of a marvel to me because, let’s face it— the dude looks like he should be the last pick at your local YMCA pick up game. His game is all street; he plays like a hustler would play and it’s unique and fun to see. That said, I’m also really good we changed the roster this year to the point where he is relegated to DNP on most nights. Yeesh, he has been BAD this year. Really bad. When Russ was healthy, Ray stayed on the bench. Without Russ, Donovan has no choice but to insert Felton to run the second unit. He’s never been much of a facilitator— always more of a guy who can go find offense for himself. Last year, he did that quite well. This year, he’s not doing it well at all. He isn’t doing anything well. He’s struggling in all aspects. The only real negative from these past few games has been the bench. As the dominoes fall with injuries and things roll downhill, the bench has been left pretty depleted— especially at the point guard position. Once Russ comes back it’s really a non-issue, but if for some reason Ray winds up factoring into the rotation more this year, he will need to be a whole lot better than he has showed thus far.
4. Another gratifying win and another step towards becoming a consistent and complete team that Russ doesn’t need to carry. No complaints winning 10 out of 11 and doing so in the manner that they have. Things get a little tougher starting Monday though. Kings might be a mirage so far this year (they’ve started to come back down to earth already), but they do appear to be improved and they certainly kicked the mess out of us in our home opener already. Sounds as if Russ could be back for that game Monday and it will be interesting to see how he integrates into things after sitting and watching for a couple of weeks. The Warriors loom on Wednesday and we don’t want to halt our own momentum by peeking ahead.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!