Author - Ed Kleese

Five Thoughts 10-28-17 (Thunder 101, Bulls 69)

1. Well, my daughter will be happy. Last year the Thunder hosted the Bulls on her birthday. It was a Wednesday night so we were wary to let her attend on a school night. Oh, and it was an 8:30 tip so we were like no chance. But she persisted and we caved. So she got to stay out until almost midnight on her 8th birthday. She has generally been a good luck charm at games, but things didn’t go well against the Bulls that night. It was one of the Thunder’s worst outings of the season and probably their worst home effort. Chicago got out big early and the Thunder never threatened. Blowout city. She had a really nice evening, but she was super bummed that they lost. She is not yet at the cynical age where she would get upset with HER team for their poor performance so she took it all out on the Bulls and blamed them for “ruining her birthday.” She has brought up this anti-Bulls sentiment many times since. Many times. She really hates the Bulls now. I wasn’t with her tonight so I look forward to telling her the final score tomorrow. She will be thrilled.

2. And if getting thrilled when the Bulls lose is a thing for her, then she is going to be thrilled a lot this year. When 100% healthy the Bulls are arguably the worst team in the NBA (I’m looking at you Suns and Mavs). When not 100% healthy like tonight, the Bulls are ABSOLUTELY the worst team in the league and one of the worst teams I’ve ever seen. For the love of Bill Wennington, that is one dreadful team. They have NOTHING. Mirotic is OK, but he’s out. And he’s out because his teammate (Bobby Portis) broke his face with a punch in practice. So now their best player is out injured and Portia is suspended. And they suck balls. Sweet start to the season for Bulls fans. I was mildly insulted we let score over 50 tonight. So the level of competiton should be factored in when assessing this game.

3. It’s not OKC’s fault that Chicago isn’t a real NBA team. All the Thunder can do is take the floor and get out of there with a stress-free victory. They did just that. Chicago hung around for a quarter and a half and then the Thunder put them away. I didn’t think the Thunder put forth an amazing effort, but they did what they needed to do to establish and hold the big lead. Second half offense was really lazy and they weren’t working for shots at all. But they did keep up the pressure on D, so I was fine with it. Best thing to see was PG13 getting involved early and producing an efficient offensive night. He looked more comfortable tonight and perhaps this will be the start of something good.

4. Fourth quarter was a basketball tragedy. Outside of Felton, the bench crew that closed the game for the Thunder looked atrocious on the offensive end. And the Bulls saved their worst for last. That was a brutal 12 minutes of a hoops train wreck. Again, no reason to fret it; guys deeper on the bench often struggle when they don’t have someone to play off of. My biggest early concern is Abrines. He doesn’t look very good and his defense hasn’t improved. I think the door for him will remain open for quite awhile, but he doesn’t want to be on the outside when it shuts.

5. Last night was tough, tonight was easy. Tuesday will probably be in between. Milwaukee is solid, but not special. The Greek Freak is exactly that; he is an early MVP candidate as well. He can do it all. But so far this year the team around him has been disappointing. This will likely be the first game I watch this season with at least a slight sense of urgency. Their three wins so far are all against below average to bad teams. Milwaukee is significantly better than that. Seems like a good time to get your first semi “good” would be Tuesday.

Ed Kleese is a long-time Thunder season ticket holder and a smart Thunder fan. You can read all his work on his own personal blog

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!

Five Thoughts 10-27-17 (Wolves 119, Thunder 116)

The Oklahoma City Thunder dropped another tight one to the Minnesota Timberwolves 119-116 on Friday night. While the Thunder dropped to 2-3 on the season, they’re also 0-2 vs. Minnesota this season. They’ll meet two more times before the season is up.

1. It was as if the game from Sunday never ended. Like Wiggins banked in the three and they just moved cities and kept playing for four more quarters. Absolutely sucks to be on the losing end of both of those games, but those were two highly early season NBA games. Game #2 didn’t have quite the same polish at the end (in Game 1 both teams executed flawlessly down the stretch). The Thunder did not close the game well offensively. One thing worth noting though would be that needing to hit a shot with under 10 seconds to go in both games and RW doesn’t take either of them. As a matter of fact, he defers to Melo. Tonight, I actually thought it may have been a mistake. On Sunday, he was able to set up Melo for a VERY clean catch and shoot. Tonight, needing a three for the tie, the Minnesota D guarded the line a bit tighter. RW may have been better off taking one of his off the dribble three’s two or three steps behind the line– he hit those at a pretty high rate last year. Instead, he passed off to Melo who had to sort of grind his way to a semi-off balance shot. Not a terrible look, but not great. All in all, I appreciate what Russ has done on both occasions and I have a feeling that sort of trust will ultimately pay off for all parties.

2. Don’t worry, I don’t ACTUALLY do this (not often at least), but I feel like I’d have to go back and watch the tape to find out what issues they had defensively. 119 point is far too many. But just watching the game, I didn’t feel like the D was all that bad. As a matter of fact, I thought we locked Wiggins down and were pretty physical overall. The issues seem to be twofold: Offensive rebounds/loose balls kept going back to the Wolves and we put them on the line far too often (especially in the middle part of the game). Thunder may very well lead the league in steals this year. That’s a good thing. They are long, insanely athletic, and Russ (often to his detriment) isn’t afraid to take chances. So far this year, the defense seems uber aggressive, certainly not lazy. Perhaps it’s a little sloppy though and they are leaving opportunities available in the paint. Beyond this over-reaching there was also some bad luck in play. This was epitomized by a good defensive possession being rendered useless when Russ got the ball, headed back the other way, slipped, lost the ball, and it wound up as an easy lay-in for the Wolves.

3. I believe this was only the second time in team history four players scored 20+ points in a game. That is an incredible change from last year. This is a good start— what they need now is to start developing roles for the guys off the bench. RW, Melo, and Adams all looked completely settled to me. PG13 looks more unsure, but he played pretty well tonight and he is still finding ways to score. He will be fine. The others are flashing here and there, but right now the Thunder really can’t rely on any of them outside of Felton (who has been exactly what the doctor ordered as the backup PG). It’s almost like an open tryout right now. Donovan is mixing and matching and giving multiple guys a chance to earn it. Right now I’d say Grant is in the lead for solidifying consistent minutes. The others (and I’m including Andre because I believe his crunch time minutes could be in jeopardy) have the door open for them.

4. Shaky start for Patterson to say the least. He’s a vet and you’d like to think he will be a guy we can count on for solid and predictable production. But so far he has been a mess. Granted, he missed most of camp and all of the pre-season games due to injury, but yeesh he hasn’t done a darn thing yet. Tonight was the first time it really hurt them. I know a lot of people were excited about the possibility of the Thunder going really small at times with Patterson at center. Well, they tried that for awhile tonight and Towns ate them up during that stretch. On the other end of the floor, Patterson has been a mannequin– a mannequin that likes to launch three’s. I understand that is sort of his game, but I need a little more activity than that from a bench guy. And I think Huestis should heed that as well. I like his size and athleticism, but he doesn’t need to be shooting 4 three’s in limited minutes. Use that athleticism and make something happen inside.

5. Not as gut-wrenching as Sunday, but certainly disappointing to lose twice to the Wolves in a five day span in games that more or less mirrored each other. It should also be noted that Minnesota got absolutely blasted by the Pacers and Pistons in their two games between ours. After the Utah loss, I said they have a 30 day grace period before I start drawing any real conclusions or heap any real praise or levy any real critiques. So I’ll stick to that and say this game is most likely just part of a bigger process for the Thunder. We will see Minnesota two more times down the road and we will see what adjustments they make. In the meantime, they have absolutely zero excuse not to win in Chicago tomorrow night. The Bulls are terrible and will be very much in the running for the worst record in the league this year (that may very well be their goal). The 30 day grace period will be lifted if they lose to the Bulls. If they focus from the outset it is the type of game they could have in the bag by halftime and possibly earn the starters some extra rest.

Ed Kleese is a long-time Thunder season ticket holder and a smart Thunder fan. You can read all his work on his own personal blog

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!

Five Thoughts 10-25-17 (Thunder 114, Pacers 96)

1. Want to start by going back to the Wolves loss on Sunday. The NBA released their “last two minute report” for that game; while I appreciate the attempt at transparency by the league, I actually wish they’d scrap this practice. I think it’s unfair to the refs to be perfectly honest. They essentially watch the last two minutes in slow motion and dissect everything that happened on the floor, called or not. They then publicly release any missed calls. But here’s the deal– if you slow down any single possession in any NBA game you are likely to find SOMETHING that was missed. Chances are on every single possession of every single game, someone is technically committing a foul or violation. Someone tugs on a jersey or moves a little on a screen or takes a slight step before dribbling. Someone off the ball probably uses an arm bar or initiates too much contact. We obviously don’t want the refs calling EVERY single violation. It would destroy any flow from the game. In the Minnesota game, they ruled that the screen on PG13 should have been called a foul. But man, that is a tough spot to call an illegal screen– unless it is just egregious to the point of ridiculousness I’m OK letting most of those things play out. They should use the two minute report internally as a tool to try and improve. I really don’t see the benefit in making it public.

2. Tonight is a good opportunity to revisit and officially close the book on the “Oladipo era” in OKC. I certainly hold nothing against VO. His one year in OKC was disappointing, but it was a bad situation. They weren’t able to use him as they had intended. He wound up being very miscast as a number two option. The plan was to bring him in as a sixth man. If you believe the rumors, had KD stayed, it also means Al Horford would have signed in OKC. That would have made Victor the fourth offensive option and there wouldn’t have been much pressure on him– and he likely would have had better looks and more space. He wasn’t a great fit alongside Russ. VO is a chill type of guy who sometimes seemed a little disengaged. That just doesn’t work with Russ. By all accounts they were friends and got along so I think this was strictly a basketball-related mismatch. His physical transformation this year is pretty remarkable– he looks like a different guy. And he is off to a sizzling start. Kind of funny, but his game at The Peake tonight may have trumped any effort he had as a member of the Thunder. He shot the ball with confidence and looked spry off the dribble. It was also nice to see the post game reactions with both VO and Sabonis. Lots of hugs and smiles and laughing– certainly appeared as if those guys were well liked. It was a no brainer trade for the Thunder, absolutely zero regrets on that regardless of PG’s long term future. But I do think both VO and Sabonis will be solid pieces for Indiana. Good job by Presti once again, attaining assets that have value.

3. Russ looked a bit off the first two games. A little unsure and possibly a little conservative (if that’s possible) in terms of how he was running the offense. Starting around halftime of the Minnesota game though Russ has seemed to find his groove and has looked comfortable and aggressive. I also think Melo looks completely settled in already. He was brought here to do one thing and he seems to know it and Donovan seems to know it and Russ seems to know it. Melo needs to score. He needs to catch and shoot and he needs to have the offense go through him when he’s on the floor with the second unit. It is perfectly fine if he shoots a high volume of shots because that is his job here. I like the way he is being deployed and I see no need to tinker with it at all. PG13 on the other hand still looks very much unsettled. I don’t think he appears to comfortable. His role here is more complicated than Melo. The latter essentially has one job– score. The Thunder need PG to be a Swiss Army Knife. They need him to defend, they need him to attack, they need him to get to the free throw line, and they need him to hit open shots when Russ kicks it out to him. Right now, I think he is catching and shooting a little too much. I’d like to see us work him in deeper in the paint and see some more offensive creativity. This won’t be easy; of all the aspects of this team/season integrating PG will likely be the most difficult. I think this will be Donovan’s single greatest challenge moving forward.

4. Huestis is interesting. I never got much of a chance to complain about it, but I was going to make it a point to mention that I didn’t like playing Ferguson while sitting Huestis. I like TFerg’s upside and it’s always important to keep very young talent like that on the roster. But at 19 years old it seems incredibly unlikely he is going to make any real contributions to a team with title aspirations THIS year. Huestis is equally unproven, but he has been around for awhile now and he’s seemed to earn his chance by playing well in the D League and pre-season. He has proven himself to be too good to spend much more time in the minor leagues. And the only way to find out if a guy can transition is to give him an opportunity. With it being so early in the season the time is right to give him a real chance and see if he can earn a spot in the rotation permanently. The competition for those minutes is legit– Roberson, Abrines, Patterson, Grant, and Huestis are all sort of vying for a finite number of minutes who play roles/positions that crossover somewhat. By the time April rolls around, that rotation is likely to shrink and someone is likely to get left out. For now I like the idea of spreading it out and seeing who steps up. I think both Roberson and Abrines are in some danger of having their minutes cut if Huestis and Grant continue to impress.

5. Thunder looked fine tonight. VO had a big game for Indiana, but overall they were not efficient offensively and the OKC seemed to nag and bother them. Offensively, things looked pretty smooth and the ball moved quite a bit. The pick and roll game between Russ and Adams looks fantastic– this is no doubt bolstered by our additions and the fact that the defense now has to account for multiple weapons. You can’t guard them all and it is opening the lane for Adams. A perfectly solid win this evening against a far lesser team. Now the Thunder hit the road for a little three game trip. First stop is a rematch with the Wolves, who have inexplicably gotten destroyed since they beat the Thunder by the very Pacers we beat tonight and the Pistons. It will be a little bit of a measuring stick game as we can see what types of adjustments we make off of that loss to them last Sunday.

Ed Kleese is a long-time Thunder season ticket holder and a smart Thunder fan. You can read all his work on his own personal blog

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!

5 thoughts from the Peake

The Oklahoma City Thunder lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves 115-113 on Sunday, Oct. 22. Andrew Wiggins hit a 30-foot buzzer beater seconds after Carmelo Anthony hit a three-pointer to give Oklahoma City the lead. However, the Thunder fall to 1-2 on the season and Minnesota improves to 2-1.

Raymond Felton the firefighter?

Did you know Raymond Felton is a firefighter? Yesterday when OKC was struggling to put their offense together it was Felton who came off the bench and was able to get the offense going putting eight points off the bench. Today when the Thunder were struggling to get the offense going while the Wolves were putting a run together it was Felton who came in and put the fire out an got the offense started scoring 10 first-half points off the bench.

Westbrook to Adams might be the best relationship in the NBA

 Westbrook pass to Adams might be the best play In basketball. How many Thunder games do you see a play where Adams comes over to set a screen for Westbrook who goes to the hoop then Adams rolls to the basket. Westbrook either throws a no-look bounce pass for an Adams dunk, or Westbrook throws a lob to a rolling Adams who throws down a dunk. Its what gets the Thunder offense cooking which in turn gets the home crowd on their feet which gives the five on the floor momentum and can quickly help get a 13-2 run going when the Thunder need it. Westbrook to Adams is the best on court relationship in basketball and is essential to the Thunder offense.

Please Russell never change

The fourth quarter is Westbrook time. You go back and watch all of last season. When the fourth quarter would come around, everyone stepped back and let the greatness of Russell Westbrook happen. Tonight felt different, yet it was still the same Westbrook who played eight minutes, scoring 15 points, one rebound and three assists going 6-of-9 shooting. Including 3-of-5 from three at 60 percent. It was the last 30 seconds that was different.

Westbrook hit a clutch three-pointer to tie the game then Anthony Towns showed his phenomenal talent scoring a tough two-pointer to put the Wolves back up then something different happened. Westbrook got the inbound ball now last season he would shot a three-pointer, but this season the game asked Westbrook to pass, so Westbrook assisted Carmelo Anthony who hit the clutch three to put Oklahoma City up with eight seconds left. Andrew Wiggins would go on to hit a clutch game-winning buzzer beater, but it was Westbrook that showed he will always do what the game asks of him if Westbrook needs to hit the game winner he will do it if the game asks of him to pass the ball he will and that will never change.

With consistent minutes Josh Huestis can be good

Josh Huestis has been asked to do a lot by the organization, and Huestis has earned every minute he gets. Because of an unfortunate injury in warm-ups to Terence Ferguson Huestis received a boost in minutes, and he looked good getting two blocks, four rebounds, and an assist. Huestis didn’t set the world on fire what he did do is show he brings something to this team on defense with his outstanding blocks and ability to hit a three Huestis could be a great asset down the line but he needs a bit more consistent minutes on the court even when Ferguson comes back into the rotation.

Peaks and Valleys  

There have only been three games so far this season, and we have already gone through some peaks and valleys an there will be more to come. The Thunders first game against the Knicks was a great start to the season we got to see how good this team could be on both sides of the ball. Then the Thunder fell into a valley against the Utah Jazz where the Jazz did a great job stopping the Thunder’s penetration game the Thunder also was not able to create stops.

Tonight against the TImberwolves was a bit of both worlds the Thunders shooting woes continued in the first half the positives came in the second half when their defense started to click which leads to the offense starting to flow. We will go through some more growing pains; you can see the potential this team has don’t be surprised if this team goes on a lengthy stretch of wins once they find there groove.

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!

5 thoughts from Utah

Missed shots will kill you

With Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony in your offense you’re going to be putting up some shots. Westbrook 11, George 19 and Anthony 26 shots the Thunder struggled to make shots in the first half as a team they shot 13-of-43 at 30.2 percent while the Jazz was shooting 17-of-39 at 43.6 percent leading to a 44-34 defect in the first half. The Thunder were never able to recover from there first half shooting woes this is something they’re going to need to address going forward going against the elite teams in the west you can’t not make shots and hope to stay in the game especially against sharpshooting teams like the Warriors and Rockets.

Keeping Westbrook out of the paint stops the Thunders aggression

Russell Westbrook finished the game with six points and seven turnovers in 36:01 minutes against the Utah Jazz this is the first time Westbrook has had more turnovers than points while playing more than 15 minutes since 3/24/2010. Rudy Gobert had a massive presence on the defensive side of the ball, and it kept Westbrook from attacking the paint restricting him to jump shots which lead to him finishing with 2-of-11 from the field at 18.2 percent and 1-of-5 from three-point range shooting at 20 percent. Not every team in the NBA has a Rudy Gobert on their side, but this could very well be a game opposition teams look at for a blueprint on how to stop the aggressiveness of Westbrook which in turn prevents the pace and flow of the Oklahoma City offense.

Defense is crucial to this teams success

The Thunder defense was only able to create eight fast break plays against the Jazz. In a game where they couldn’t hit a jump shot, they needed to build some easy points and momentum and the defense was not able to create any. Against the Knicks, we saw how good this defense could be tonight against the Jazz we saw the other side of the coin. The Thunder wasn’t able to switch as effectively as they have shown to be and it hurt them on the offensive side of the ball.

Creating offense from defense is going to be a massive part of this teams success. They have one of the best players in the world on a fast break in Westbrook you give him shooters in Anthony and George this team is going to be lethal but only if the defense can live up to there end of the deal tonight we saw what happens when it doesn’t.

Felton is what the doctor ordered

Last season when Westbrook went to the bench the offense died a miserable death which in turn either took away any lead Westbrook had built or made the defect more significant. There was no one running the point off of the bench that could keep the offense going and get defensive stops, unfortunately, Semaj Christon wasn’t capable. In the off-season, GM Sam Presti addressed that issue an went out and signed free agent Raymond Felton. Against the Jazz, Westbrook couldn’t hit a shot to save his life so when he went out of the game we got to see how valuable Felton is going to be for this team coming off the bench. Felton added eight points shooting 3-of-5 at 60 percent playing 18 minutes off the bench he was also valuable on the defensive side of the ball getting two steals and a rebound. It’s was good to see that not all hope is lost when Westbrook is off the court this season this team can keep everything together when Felton is out on the court running the point.

Utah are very very good

The Utah Jazz is a very well coached team that has some very talented players. They will be a factor when the playoffs come around with guys like Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles, Ricky Rubio and Joe Johnson coming off the bench this team is going to give a lot of teams trouble on both sides of the ball. Gobert gives them such a presence on defense especially in the paint he kept the Thunder from penetrating and settle for jump shots which were a big reason why the Jazz got the win today. Rubio is an excellent asset at point guard with his superb passing ability finishing with five assists he was able to find Ingles behind the three-point line who was ready to hit the three at will it seemed shooting 5-of-9 from behind the arc at 55.6 percent.

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!

5 Thoughts: Opening Night

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.

 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.”

 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.

 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.

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!

Three things from Oklahoma City’s first preseason game

While the Thunder took a loss on Tuesday evening in Tulsa to the Houston Rockets 104-97, the debut of Carmelo Anthony and Paul George in their Thunder uniforms lived up to the hype. The Rockets hit tons of threes but for the Thunder, there were some things that stuck out. Here are three things I saw:

Melo looked like old school Melo

While it was only a half of a preseason game, Carmelo Anthony found his rhythm early and was efficient. He went on streaks of hitting three and four shots in a row. His ability to find the rim really was a flashback to his time in Denver. Oklahoma City can be in a great spot if we see this on the regular. It’s unknown if that’s going to happen but if it does, look out league.

Anthony finished 7-of-13 from the field and 3-of-5 from deep. If it wasn’t for Anthony, the Thunder would have been in such a bigger hole. His four shots in a row in the second quarter, closed a 12-point deficit down to a six.

Isaiah Canaan fits well

The kid who dropped 31 points against Oklahoma City shot well and was one of the rare bench performances where the bench was obsolete at times. Canaan was 2-of-4 from deep and was a ball full of energy. Imagine JJ Barea but not nearly as annoying.

It’s going to be a long shot if he makes the roster. While Oklahoma City loves keeping three point guards on the roster, there is Semaj Christon, who did not play tonight, and Raymond Felton. Canaan will need some more performances like this one to make this roster.

Andre’s shot is still broken

The best part is Andre Roberson doesn’t have to shoot a lot. While Roberson was 1-of-2 from the field, his only miss was a horrible miss.

He’s going to need to be better if he’s going to be a quality starter. If Roberson goes to the bench, he’s essentially useless on this team. His defense is the main part of why he’s starting. He’s one of the best perimeter defenders in the association. However, he’s completely the opposite when it comes to three-point shooting.

After all, this is one game and really one shot. It’s the first preseason game of the season. So, there is literally no lower he can go and should improve drastically as the preseason continues.

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!

5 Thoughts: Thunder dominate 76ers (3-22-17)

5 thoughts

OKLAHOMA CITY CONSISTENCY

With their victory over the 76ers, Oklahoma City improved their record to 41-30, guaranteeing themselves a winning record for the 8th straight season. The Thunder are one of only three teams in the NBA to accomplish this feat, joining them with the Houston Rockets and the San Antonio Spurs. This stat is truly remarkable and speaks to the great consistency the organization has achieved since its arrival in Oklahoma City. Out of all the teams in the NBA, only three have had winning seasons for the past eight years, and the Thunder is one of them. Thunder fans should be proud of this stat.

DOWN LOW PRESENCE ELITE

Oklahoma City absolutely dominated down low against the 76ers. It out rebounded Philadelphia 54-25, which was the largest rebounding margin in Thunder history. The 76ers didn’t have an answer for the Thunder’s bigs all night, as Oklahoma City outscored Philadelphia 76-50 in the paint. Since the addition of Taj Gibson, Oklahoma City’s interior has gone from formidable to elite. Damontis Sabonis looks much more comfortable coming off the bench, and Gibson looks like a natural fit into the starting lineup. Enes Kanter scored 24 points with 11 rebounds on 8-of-9 shooting last night, helping to boost the second unit. With Adams, Gibson, Kanter, and Sabonis, Oklahoma City should be able to bully most teams down low.

TRIPLE DOUBLE WATCH

Russell Westbrook finished last night’s game with 18 points, 14 assists, and 11 rebounds. What made this triple double special, however, was his efficiency in doing so. Westbrook shot 6-of-6 from the field, and also 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. He became the first player in NBA history to finish with a triple double without missing a shot from the field or free-throw line. It was Westbrook’s 35th triple double of the season and 72nd of his career. If Westbrook can notch six triple doubles over Oklahoma City’s final 11 games, he will tie Oscar Robertson’s single season record for triple doubles at 41.

BRETT BROWN CAN COACH

I repeat, Brett Brown can coach. Even as the 76ers were getting pummeled throughout the second half, Brown continued to coach hard, even calling a timeout with just over three minutes left in the game with the outcome already clearly decided. The 76ers deserve some credit as well, for sticking it out with Brown and not giving up on him. It was clear when he arrived in Philadelphia that rebuilding was needed, but I doubt anyone in the organization expected “The Process” to be as rough as it has been. Brown has stuck it out through the tough times, however, and now the whole organization is beginning to reap the benefits. To this point in the season, Philadelphia has already won 16 more games this year than they did last year.

PHILADELPHIA COULD BE A MARQUEE GAME SOON

Things have been rough in Philly for a few years now, but they’re closer than people think to being a playoff team in the East. A lot of their success will depend on whether they can keep their best players healthy. Joel Embiid is out for the season with a knee injury, and is also now drawing comparisons to Greg Oden due to his inability to stay on the court. Ben Simmons is waiting in the wings for next season after losing this season due to a foot injury. If Simmons, Embiid, Dario Saric, and Jahlil Okafor all can stay healthy, Philadelphia will have a solid core to build their organization around. Watch out for the 76ers in a few years.

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!