1. Start with the only bad news from the night. The Diallo injury is a real bummer. As of this moment no news has come out as to the extent, but it obviously didn’t look good. You don’t see guys go off on a stretcher all that often in basketball— this is now the second Thunder shooting guard to leave the floor via stretcher in less than a year. Brett Dawson reported that Diallo was seen in a wheelchair post game entering the locker room. To me, that is actually slightly promising news. Heading to the locker room beats heading to the hospital. In any event, I’d assume Diallo’s season is in jeopardy. That really stinks because he is a super interesting and exciting player. His confidence meter is already tapped out— kid is a whirling dervish and impacts the game (for better or worse) immediately upon entering each night. The fact that TFerg also went down tonight (with what I assume is a far less serious injury) really hurts the overall depth of the team. That said, TLC can play a little bit and I am also impressed with Burton. Will be interesting to see how the rotations will change if TFerg and Diallo are both sidelined for awhile. Fingers crossed that the injury looked worse than the reality.
2. In the first half, I really liked what everyone was doing except for Russ. He seemed to be doing something different from everyone else and just looked off. I thought his response in the second half was the most important development of this game. The Warriors cut the halftime lead down to three WAY too quickly. Thunder did a poor job out of halftime being ready for that run. KD and Klay both came out hot and Thunder seemed a little stunned. It didn’t take long for that lead to go from 14 to 3. But at that very moment, the Thunder were able to re-take control of the game. They did it with Russ reading the game properly. Down three, he stopped the bleeding by scoring on a drive. After that, he kept it cool and started distributing to the hotter hands. He stayed active on both ends but wasn’t forcing his shot or playing out of control. He got the ball to PG and Adams and didn’t try to do too much. Zero panic tonight. Quite the opposite. Team was totally cool and composed and didn’t get rattled by the Dubs quick run. In the fourth quarter, Russ clearly recognized Dennis was having a night and made sure he deferred to him (which was absolutely the right move). This will be an ongoing challenge for Russ. Some nights they will still need him to go bananas, but they won’t need him to do it nearly as often. It will be up to him to read the game and situation and know when to down shift and when to rocket to the moon. It’s not an easy thing to do, especially for a competitor like Russ. Tonight, he played it perfectly. He didn’t allow a subpar first half to snowball into a bad second half. He made the shift in approach and it was exactly what his team needed from him.
3. I said after the Kings game that the Thunder will struggle to win when Dennis is REALLY bad and they will probably almost never lose when he is REALLY good. I just didn’t expect we’d get the extreme examples back to back. This was still very much a game early in the fourth quarter. Had Dennis not taken over things could have gotten really tight down the stretch. But he took the life out of the Dubs in the early part of the fourth quarter. By the time PG and Russ came back the game was already in hand. It wasn’t over, but Dennis had done the heavy lifting. It’s funny, if you would have told me right after last season that the Thunder would win at Golden State and the MVP of the game wouldn’t be Russ, PG, or Adams… I would have wondered what apocalyptic event took place to alter the NBA landscape so drastically. I just still can’t believe that somehow Dennis wound up being the outcome of the Melo trade.
4. No doubt the Thunder caught the Warriors at a good time. They look dreadful without Curry— even though they probably shouldn’t. Things aren’t quite right in Oakland currently and the Thunder took advantage. I do think GS played hard tonight and took the game seriously. As mentioned above, KD and Klay came out pretty aggressive. Thunder D shut that down though and made them take tough shots all night. Adams dominated them in the paint on both ends of the floor. Clearly, the Warriors are going to eventually get things together. Once they get all their guys, they will likely lock in and go on a big run. That said, I do believe they are vulnerable this year. There is an emotional toll as well as a physically one for teams that go that deep so many years in a row. There is a fatigue that sets in. This year there are a LOT of good teams in the West— very few easy nights and teams will continue to slowly hack away at the Warriors. I don’t think any team is built for more potential success against them than the Thunder. GS has no answer for Adams and the Thunder D can force them into turnovers which slows down their attack. I like the way we match up with them, even when they have their full arsenal. Good road trip, I’ll take 2-1 with a win at GS all day long. The very rare home back to back awaits Friday/Saturday. After that they play two of the worst teams in the league next week (Cavs and Hawks). Door is open for the Thunder to make a move. Based on their performance tonight it appears they are ready to walk through that door.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!