The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night. The final score doesn’t matter. It’s a preseason game. Teams are not going to play their normal rotations and will try other players who are trying to make the roster. Here are a few notes from the game.
Defensively they look fine
No Luka Doncic and not Kristaps Porzingis but the Thunder’s defense looked solid. They made most shots tough for the Mavericks and the first time in a while the Thunder never really seemed to have a late game collapse. Sure, Dallas made it close but it really wasn’t a threat. Only four steals as a team. That’s going to take some time to adjust to, and that may change or hurt Oklahoma City down the road.
Chris Paul has always been an above average defender and the Thunder still have Steven Adams. However, stuff like Jerami Grant being gone won’t be seen until we really start playing full games. However, their perimeter defense was solid and overall was a solid performance by the team.
Sharing is caring
While Russell Westbrook often led the league in assists the team was disappointing when it came to total assists per game. 24 in their first game is nice. They were pretty spread out and that means people were hitting their shots with some consistency. It’s no secret Westbrook would’ve averaged 15 per game had people hit their shots.
Where will the assists come from? While the NBA continues to become this fluid, position-less league, the Thunder will rely on Chris Paul for those numbers but SGA will do his part but only one assist from SGA last night isn’t alarming but may be something we key on.
Free throws were rough
Oklahoma City shot just 65.7 percent from the free throw line last night. That cannot happen going forward. The margin for error will be tight for a team that lacks multiple MVP candidates. Some of it will get better. Lugunetz Dort will not miss two because he’ll be with the OKC Blue. Terrance Ferguson is better than a 50 percent shooter.
Things that probably will stay the same: Steven Adams missing three. That’s come to be expected. He was 6-of-9 last night and with his physicality down low, he’s likely to get the line a handful of times each game. Hopefully with Adams, he makes more than he misses.
We’re not even going to consider what it may be with Andre Roberson returning to the lineup soon.
Optimism is high
The over/under is 31.5 for the Thunder on wins. If they play like this and SGA becomes what the Thunder expect out of him, the Thunder could win a few more games. I’m not sure what the real life expectations from the Thunder are but if CP3 plays well, doesn’t get traded and the Thunder find themselves in the thick of a playoff race or at least at .500.
Mike Muscala didn’t look particularly well in his one. In only eight minutes of play he was 1-of-5 with a turnover. He was a plus-11. So, that’s good, right?
Do we eve really know what his role is here in Oklahoma City? No. The Thunder signed a player who doesn’t particularly fit well with the roster they have. He’s never shown proper play that would put him into the starting five, to me obviously. Maybe Billy Donovan is working him into the rotation but playing so late in a preseason game is not always the best sign. We’ll see going forward.
The Thunder shoot the three… well?
Despite it being just a preseason game, the Thunder looked GOOD from beyond the arc. Something the Thunder have struggled with over the last couple of seasons didn’t look like an issue last night. Sure, Dallas was without a couple of key players but the building blocks for a decent perimeter game was there.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander went 4-of-8 and Chris Paul went 2-of-3. That’s already a change. While we all love Russell, his three-point shooting left a lot to be desired. It’s going to be a nice change of pace to have a point guard who hit a three with some consistency. Paul is a career 37 percent three-point shooter. Westbrook is a 31 percent shooter.
Starters-wise, the Thunder went 8-of-14, pretty solid. Danilo Gallinari missed his only attempt and he only played 17 minutes. Very curious to see what Oklahoma City can do with a full 48 minutes. It’s not always going to be good but it has to be better, right?
ALSO: Steven Adams hit a three! Steven Adams hit a three! Steven Adams hit a three!
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