Tag - fans

10 Kyle Singler Trade Scenarios

He’s your lovable hipster that can rock a man bun better than the Starbucks barista. However, while he doesn’t play, the Thunder’s Kyle Singler is a rotting log that takes up $4.7 million. His percentages aren’t great so fans are fed up with the former Duke Blue Devil.

I think most people are just salty because Singler makes almost as much as Josh Huestis, Terrance Ferguson and Jerami Grant ($4,780,687).

So, the best thing to do is to trade the man. He’s never panned out to what the Thunder hoped He was expected to be a spot up three-point shooter as he was in Detroit. Some players just struggle with adjustment and Singler is one of those.

Who wants Singler’s salary and playing ability, or lack there of? I’ve used the ESPN Trade Machine to trade Singler to 10 different NBA teams. Here are a few pointers before you have a mental breakdown:

  • Some of them are real, some are not. I’m sure you can figure which ones aren’t real.
  • Factors into the non-real ones: Salaries only. That’s it.
  • I had fun.

All right, that’s out of the way, let’s have some fun.

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Thunder Game Day No. 42: at Minnesota Timberwolves

Oklahoma City Thunder (22-19, 8-12 away) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (26-16, 15-6 home)

Wednesday, Jan. 10 :: 7:00 p.m. CST :: Target center (19,356)
Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27) | 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
Coverage: ESPN (DirectTV 206, Cox 29, HD 1300, Tulsa Cox HD 1025)
View from the enemy: Here.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 4-point underdog. The over/under is 204½.
Online Stream: Watch ESPN | WWLS Sports AnimalLive Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | T-Wolves: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • The Oklahoma City Thunder head to the great north to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves on ESPN for a Northwestern Divisional showdown.
  • The T-Wolves own a 2-1 seasonal head-to-head series advantage.
  • Currently, the Timberwolves are fourth in the Western Conference playoff race. Oklahoma City is sixth.
  • Oklahoma City is coming off a 117-106 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers last night.
  • Minnesota is 7-3 in the last 10 games, including back-to-back double digit wins over New Orleans and Cleveland.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • You can catch the radio on Oklahoma City’s WWLS, 98.1 FM. Matt Pinto will be your play-by-play voice. If you’re in Tulsa, catch it on 1450 AM.
  • Brian Davis and Michael Cage call the game on the Thunder’s flagship station, Fox Sports Oklahoma. You can watch the game there, catch it on NBA League Pass, or use the Fox Sports App (If you’re in Oklahoma).
  • If you’re not in the Oklahoma City market, tonight’s game is on ESPN. Mark Jones, Hubie Brown and Doris Burke will be on the call.

SCOUTING THE TIMBERWOLVES

  • The Minnesota Timberwolves are 26-16 on the season, fourth in the Western Conference.
  • In their last 10 games, the T-Wolves are 7-3, including winners of back-to-back games.
  • All-time, the Oklahoma City Thunder lead the series against the Minnesota Timberwolves 81-32.
  • Oklahoma City is 29-9 against Minnesota since relocation.
  • When playing at the Target Center, the Thunder are 13-6 at Minnesota.
  • The T-Wolves own a 2-1 advantage in the head-to-head this season against Oklahoma City.
  • It’s the first time since 2012-13 season, the Thunder have lose two games against Minnesota.
  • In their last game, Minnesota beat Cleveland 127-99 on Monday, Jan. 8.
  • Injury Report:
    Jeff Teague (knee) is a game-time decision.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Minnesota came on April 15, 2015, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 138-113 (25-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (42 points) vs. Minnesota occurred during an 129-87 loss on Jan. 7, 2009.

WHAT’S IN THE T-WOLVES NAME?

  • The ownership group for Minnesota’s prospective franchise chose Timberwolves through a name-the-team contest in 1986.
  • The nickname beat out Polars by a 2-1 margin in the final vote, which was conducted in 333 of the state’s 842 city councils.
  • Tim Pope, who was one of the first fans to nominate Timberwolves, won a trip to the NBA All-Star Game. Pope submitted 10 nicknames in all, including Gun Flints. “I thought a two-word name would win,” he told a reporter.
  • The most popular entry in the contest was Blizzard, but the team wanted a nickname that was more unique to its home state. “Minnesota is the only state in the lower 48 with free-roaming packs of timber wolves,” a team official said.

INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson is OUT (left patellar tendonitis).

NEXT UP

  • Oklahoma City finishes their road trip with a Saturday matinee against the Charlotte Hornets.
  • Then, the Thunder return home for four games in five games.



Three Keys to the Game

Rebound

It’s not a coincidence those who won the rebounding battle won the game. Oklahoma City dominated the rebounding battle, by 16 boards, in their win. Minnesota won by an average of eight boards per game in their two wins. Win the rebounding. Win the game?

Force turnovers

With Andre Roberson out, the Thunder have struggled to force turnovers. It’s imperative Oklahoma City’s defense comes ready to play tonight. Minnesota is first in the NBA in opponent steals, meaning they’re allowing the lowest in the NBA. The Thunder have to buck that trend.

Big Three

When you play top echelon teams like the Timberwolves, yeah that’s still weird typing that, you have to show up and show out. For Paul George, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, all three will have to be on their A games tonight. If they’re not, the Thunder will be answering questions once again about how Westbrook left the arena without talking to media again.

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Thunder Game Day No. 37: vs. Dallas Mavericks

Oklahoma City Thunder (20-16, 14-5 home) vs. Dallas Mavericks (12-25, 4-14 away)

Sunday, Dec. 31 :: 6 p.m. CST :: Chesapeake Energy Arena (18,203)
Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27) | 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemy: Here.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 7½-point favorite. The over/under is 202.
Online Stream: Fox Sports GoWWLS Sports AnimalLive Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Mavericks: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • Fresh off the debauchery that is the outcome of the NBA officiating blunders, the Oklahoma City Thunder bring in the Dallas Mavericks for a New Year’s Eve showdown.
  • Oklahoma City has played at home on New Year’s for every year they’ve been in Oklahoma City. The franchise has played every game at home since 2004.
  • The Thunder are 8-1 all-time on New Year’s Eve, including four wins over the Phoenix Suns.
  • Tonight is the 10-year anniversary of Oklahoma City beat the Warriors and showed they could make it in the NBA despite the 4-29 record.
  • Oklahoma City and Dallas have split the regular season meetings this season, each winning on their home floors.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • You can catch the radio on Oklahoma City’s WWLS, 98.1 FM. Matt Pinto will be your play-by-play voice. If you’re in Tulsa, catch it on 1450 AM.
  • Brian Davis and Michael Cage call the game on the Thunder’s flagship station, Fox Sports Oklahoma. You can watch the game there, catch it on NBA League Pass, or use the Fox Sports App (If you’re in Oklahoma).

SCOUTING THE MAVERICKS

  • The Dallas Mavericks are 12-25 on the season, 13th in the Western Conference.
  • In their last 10 games, Dallas is 5-5.
  • Despite the poor record, the Mavericks have won three straight.
  • In their last game, Dallas beat the New Orleans Pelicans 128-120 on Friday night.
  • In their last meeting, Dallas beat the tar out of the Oklahoma City Thunder 97-81 on Nov. 25.
  • Oklahoma City is 80-72 all-time against the Dallas Mavericks.
  • Since the relocation from Seattle, Oklahoma City is 20-14 against Dallas.
  • The Thunder are 7-3 in their last 10 games against the Mavericks.
  • INJURY REPORT:
  • Josh McRoberts (lower body) is questionable.
    Dorian Finney-Smith (knee) is out.
    Nerlens Noel (thumb) is out.
    Seth Curry (lower leg) is out.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over the Mavericks came on Feb. 4, 2013, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 112-91 (21-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (23 points) vs. Dallas occurred during an 86-109 loss on 3/16/14.

Taming the Mavericks

  • A Dallas radio station sponsored a name-the-team contest and recommended the finalists to team owner Donald Carter, who ultimately chose Mavericks over Wranglers and Express.
  • The 41 fans who suggested Mavericks each won a pair of tickets to the season opener and one of those fans, Carla Springer, won a drawing for season tickets.
  • Springer, a freelance writer, said the nickname “represents the independent, flamboyant style of the Dallas people.”
  • That’s certainly an apt description for current team owner Mark Cuban.

NEW FACES

  • The Oklahoma City Thunder added a bunch of new faces this year.
  • Paul George was acquired on June 30 for Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo.
  • Carmelo Anthony joins the Thunder after Oklahoma City sent Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a second round pick to the Knickerbockers for Anthony.
  • Oklahoma City also signed Raymond Felton and Patrick Patterson via free agency.
  • Terrance Ferguson was drafted in the first round out of Australia.
  • Oklahoma City also added PJ Dozier, undrafted rookie out of South Carolina to a two-way deal.

INJURY REPORT

  • Paul George (left knee soreness) WILL play.
  • Andre Roberson is OUT (left patellar tendonitis)

NEXT UP

  • The Thunder go on a West Coast swing playing the Clippers, Lakers and the Suns in 2018.



Three Keys to the Game

Lawler’s Law

Lawler’s law is so big for the Thunder. They’re 17-6 when they hit the 100-point mark. Oklahoma City, though is only 7-11 when an opponent hits 100 points. I know Lawler’s Law isn’t about “hitting a 100” but it’s big. Dallas is 2-17 when they give up 100 points. So, that’s Oklahoma City’s should be goal.

Force turnovers

The Mavericks are No. 1 in the NBA in taking care of the ball. They’ll have to find a way to force turnovers against the Mavericks tonight. If Dallas takes care of the ball, this game might end up being closer than expected. Oklahoma City forces turnovers, the Thunder might run away with this one.

Rebound

The Oklahoma City Thunder have rebounded well lately but they’ll have to do it again tonight. Dallas is 6-3 when they out rebound the opponent. You flip that. Oklahoma City is 15-5 when they can grab more boards than their opponent.

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Raptors Meltdown! 12.27.17

Thunder blow out the Raptors and the fans go bananas. They hate the officials. They hate Westbrook. However, a trend we’re seeing is that no one hates Adams. They love the dude. Maybe as much as we do. It’s definitely not more than us. Enjoy the Meltdown!

  • We couldn’t stop a midget from getting in the paint which bodes well now dealing with Westbrook.
  • LOL They cannot guard Derozan and Lowry.
  • Let’s **** go. A real test.
  • This is a W quote me, ban me if not
  • Id expect a much better effort. It feels like either a close win or a blowout loss lol.
  • we can beat these frauds up
  • Guaranteed blowout loss tonight. No way I’m watching that sh*t show.
  • Trap game for OKC.
  • we look like a g league team when we face pressure
  • I’m going back to playing the Sims lol
  • Raptors look scared…playoff preview
  • hoyl **** the Raptors are a joke
  • Holy **** they can’t miss
  • Vanvleet on Westbrook, what can go wrong?
  • Badrick Badderson time
  • Brickerson the goat
  • hahaha badrick badderson
  • We the first
  • Where the hell was this CJ Miles like all last week?
  • I HATE fatton
  • felton…
  • Donovan is a terrible coach you need one of the big three on the court at all times
  • OKC are a joke. Bunch of fake All-Stars.
  • Purtle so good
  • This is gonna be a blowout…..
  • …for the Raptors.
  • gg westbrook back in
  • damn it, the monster is back
  • lmaooo felton
  • You breathe on Westbrook and it’s a foul
  • Lmao **** Westbrook
  • lol what a b**** Westbrook is.
  • SUSPEND HIM, THAT’S A FLAGRANT
  • JailRaptors
  • i love JV, **** that midget
  • Westbrook is such a little b*tch
  • **** off, Westbrook.
  • Lol wtf was that Westbrook is petty
  • Ibaka wtf
  • MAn these refs can get hit by a truck.
  • westbrick flopped
  • Goatbrook definitely fired up the team
  • Does anyone on the Raptors rebound? SMH
  • Everything went to **** once the starters came in
  • Why was PG open?
  • WHAT IS JV DOING. NOTHING. Soft as butter.
  • I’d like to see how our bench does against OKC’s starters. Can’t be worse than our starters.
  • I love how salty the OKC crowd is about everything JV does
  • Lowry ego is size of Raymond Felton gut
  • Wtf is Lowry doing man?
  • lmao Lowry
  • let’s just russ tossed
  • Apparently, everything is a foul on Westbrick.
  • get this **** lineup outta here man
  • Just got back. Didn’t we have a 9 point lead? What happened?
  • Russell Westbrook happened
  • DeMar has been shut down
  • unacceptable by Demar
  • Fake all stars at it again
  • Lol **** craptors
  • This Okc team might take the warriors to 6
  • This game is a preview of whats to come in the playoffs…”stars” struggling, hoping JV can score to keep as afloat.
  • Why won’t they feed JV? OKC is soft inside
  • We’re done. There’s NO FIGHT. DONE. I’m DONE.
  • We got this.
  • I have no idea how PG always ends up with a wide open 3.
  • Westbrook and PG13 are made for one another
  • melo is cooking ibakaaa
  • why do we keep leaving PG open?
  • 5 guys guarding goatbrook
  • our “big 3” are not here tonight
  • Medium 3 at best.
  • Adams only has 4 rebounds..but you could think he has grabbed 15 of them..he is so present down there, battling.
  • Deselfish missed Pascal on the run
  • Place is on fire.
  • Lights blew up.
  • The smoke is caseys fault
  • I knew I heard some fire crackers
  • Give the Raps an automatic W for these shenanigans by OKC.
  • Does Casey plan on coaching tonight?
  • Lowry & DeRozan are hot trash.
  • okc defense is pretty good
  • Huestis has wingspan for dayssss
  • lowry is such a fraud
  • CANCEL THE GAME
  • Damn Westbrook is literally torching Lowry lol
  • The results of this game shouldn’t count.
  • refs looking around like “oh **** wasn’t trained for this lmao”
  • Hard to win when the other team takes 100 more shots than you
  • Patterson out hustling us and Powell misses an easy layup as usual
  • I miss patterson
  • lol even league pass knows thsi game is over
  • The NBA has decided to end this game after 3 quarters…
  • Derozan is just awful tonight.
  • **** clowns empty the bench
  • Welp good night fellas
  • Is Derozan high? I honestly can’t explain what he’s trying to do
  • Adams coming back..what is JV doing still sitting??
  • can’t stop Fat Felton.
  • Felton lost weight.
  • bring back trash era
  • now i get why people thing we are still bad.
  • Send Casey to the G-league
  • I don’t get why Van Vleet playing so much in this game?
  • We the fraud
  • never knew Raymond Felton was so good
  • Embarrassed by fatton. Can’t get any lower than this.
  • HO MAN ADAMS
  • That was a top 5 dunk minimum of the season.
  • yikes…
  • lol Lowry got blocked by Felton
  • Adams taking a piece of JV’s soul
  • Can we trade for Felton
  • Our all stars are trash
  • Melo is still that dude
  • Godaddy…How about go fk yourself.
  • it’s time to blow it up
  • Who says Aquaman can’t fly? Because he just dunked all over JV.
  • embarrassing
  • fake 2 seed
  • Demar should start coming off the bench. Start Miles.
  • Paul George amazing
  • Do you think we can sign josh huestsis
  • lol this is why we’re never on national tv
  • Trash team, fire Casey.
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Real plus/minus vs Rockets

The Oklahoma City Thunder defeat the Houston Rockets 112-107 on Christmas. The Thunder used their elite defense to limit the Rockets to 12-of-37 from three. Andre Roberson was the key to the Thunders win shutting down James Harden, getting four steals and two blocks for the Thunder.

PLUS

Limiting Rockets three Makes

The Houston Rockets lead the NBA in three-point attempts at 43.1 per game. The Thunder limited the Rockets to shoot 37 threes at 32.4 percent the Rockets, only 12 makes tonight, are shooting at 46.9 percent on threes for the season ranking eighth in the league for three-point percentage. The Thunder did a terrific job on rotation and closing down on Rockets shooters. The Thunder had a season-high nine blocks which could have something to do with Rockets struggling from behind the arc.

Big four

Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and Steven Adams were fantastic for the Thunder finishing with 31, 24, 20 and 15 points respectively. Westbrook started out slow for the Thunder shooting 0-of-6 in the first quarter but found his shot to finish 12-of-24 at 50 percent having a terrific third quarter going 5-of-5 to keep the Thunder in the game. George and Anthony were terrific all night George on both the offensive shooting 53.3 percent from the field and 57 percent from three and the defensive side, Anthony was fantastic shooting 8-of-12 at 66.7 percent from the field and also 2-of-4 from three at 50 percent. Adams was the tone-setter early for the Thunder offense going 6-of-8 at 75 percent in the first quarter for 12 points. Thunders star stepped up again and made big shots when they were needed this team is finding its self and taking some big names while they’re still searching.

Roberson defense on Harden

Andre Roberson was fantastic for the Thunder guarding James Harden every time he was on the court. Harden is averaging 32.4 points on 45.6 percent from the field and 39.4 percent from three against the Thunder Harden managed 29 points on 38.9 percent from the field and 27.3 percent from three. Roberson was crucial for the Thunder to win this game and he came up big time for his team recording four steals and two blocks, one block coming at a huge moment in the fourth. Roberson has received some flack from the media and fans about his lack of productivity on offense but tonight you see why Billy Donovan is so keen on Roberson on this team he shut down Harden while also giving the Thunder eight points on 75 percent shooting.

MINUS

Fouling three-point shooters

The Thunder fouled a Rockets three-point shooter four times and sent them to the line 12 times with the Rockets making 11 of them. The Thunder have made this mistake consistently all season. They pressure the shooters well but get carried away and make contact with the shooter or the shooter takes advantage of the THunders pressure and falls into the Thunder defender which lets the opposition off the hook and gives them an easy three points at the free throw line or if the shooter is good gives them a four-point play. It is something Billy Donovan and the players have to address and fix.

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Christmas Day has become a Thunder tradition

Sitting by the fire as the Oklahoma winds whip through Bricktown. You’re opening presents with your loved ones but you keep one eye glued to the clock. While spending time with your family is great, the Thunder national family has become another thing in itself. The Thunder playing on Christmas, it’s as traditional as Bing Crosby and Mariah Carey.

When the ball jumps at the Peake on Christmas Day, it’s a continual sign that Oklahoma City has arrived. No long is the town a po-dunk little pass over town. People stop and the gawk at the goosebump giving play of the reigning MVP, Russell Westbrook.

Despite the market size, which many still feels handicaps the franchise, the Thunder have been all over the NBA schedule on Christmas Day.

The tension was real before the schedule was released last season. Would the NBA punish the Thunder for not having Kevin Durant? Is this what mediocrity would look like when the NBA passed over the Thunder? However, all those questions fell to the side as Oklahoma City was given a showdown with the up-and-coming Minnesota Timberwolves.

While the T-Wolves fans celebrated their return to the NBA spotlight, for the Thunder fans, the cheers were there, along with a sigh of relief. Westbrook didn’t disappoint. Throwing down a near triple-double in a double-digit win over the young pups of Minnesota.

It’s the best time of the year, Christmas time. The opportunity to play the game I love every night is a blessing. I enjoy it,” Westbrook said.

Gone though, with the move to Nike are the unique Christmas Day uniforms. Most teams will wear their statement uniforms, you know the dark blue ones with orange lettering. Expect the Rockets to wear their red uniforms or the white ones as the black and dark blue contrast too much.

The Thunder have played on every Christmas Day since 2010. The Thunder at the time were having their welcome to the spotlight moment as they throttled the Denver Nuggets. Kevin Durant scored 44 points in the game, his first 40-point game of the season that year. Westbrook’s killer time showed Chauncey Billups and Co., a very efficient 19 points.

Each year, the games became more intriguing and more of a showdown with the NBA’s best teams. In 2012, the Thunder opened the strike-shortened season against Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic. Oklahoma City held the Howard to one of his lowest scoring outputs (11) all season long.

Games against Miami and San Antonio, at the time, two of the best teams at the time (and who met in back-to-back Finals). Sandwiched between those was Westbrook’s coming out party against the New York Knicks. A triple-double and a mop of the floor, saw the NBA realize how great the future MVP would be.

Who can forget Reggie Jackson being a Spurs killer on Christmas and ruining Christmas for the Spurs?

There have been duds. A 2015 loss to the very average Chicago Bulls set the Thunder back. Oklahoma City couldn’t beat the LeBron James led Heat, as we all had PTSD of the NBA Finals match up

All-in-all, playing on Christmas is special for Oklahoma City and their fan base. We take our families and loved ones to the games or we get a nice plate of food and sit around the big screen, cheering on our team. When the Rockets come to town on Christmas Day. Thunder fans have already won. They’ll be on national television. There’s an NBA team in Oklahoma City.

It’s a joy to tell those who are curious on what you’re doing for Christmas. You look at them and just tell them, “Yeah, I’ll be watching Thunder basketball.”

Merry Christmas and Happy holidays from everyone here at Thunder Digest.

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Five Thoughts 12-22-17 (Thunder 120, Hawks 117)

1. There are definitely some negatives to discuss tonight, but they are overshadowed by a fairly obvious positive. All season long the Thunder have gotten by mostly on the strength of their defense and winning ugly. I wouldn’t necessarily say their defense betrayed them tonight (Atlanta was making some crazy shots), but the reality is that sometimes the other team is going to score. They are going to hit tough shots. They are going to have a guy that has a big night or gives a Thunder defender trouble. If you can’t respond to that with some offensive punch of your own, then it’s going to be real tough to ever get on any sort of roll. You can’t win EVERY game 95-94. Tonight for whatever reason the Thunder were having a horrible time getting stops in the fourth quarter. But they had answers on the other end— not something they’ve always been able to say this season. For one of the first times this season the Thunder had a big offensive half and then followed it up with another. They needed every bit of those 120 points tonight. It’s good to see them win in a different manner.

2. I’m OK with that final shot from Russ. It’s hardly a great look, but considering he’s been so hot I’m fine getting the ball in his hands and letting him decide. I don’t necessarily love the decision to shoot a three there, but the Hawks did sag— he didn’t really have a good driving lane. Looked like PG flashed to the top of the key and RW briefly thought about going to him. But honestly with about 4-5 seconds remaining at that point Russ basically has to do decide if they are better are with PG shooting it or with RW himself shooting it. All current things considered, Russ likely made the better choice there. In a tie game you need to make sure you aren’t leaving any time on the clock for Atlanta to get off a good shot at the buzzer. It’s hard to ensure that while also driving and giving yourself enough time to shoot or pass. Overtime in that situation isn’t so bad. My preference there would be for Russ to start about 3 seconds earlier and put the ball on the floor— drive at least a few steps; see how the defense reacts. If you have them on their heels, you can pull up for the jumper. If they bring another defender you can pass or try to get to the rim. That would be option A for me. However, if you can believe this, I’ve never had the ball in my hands during an NBA game with the clock ticking. Russ has been on fire. The shot was in rhythm. He drained it. I’m not complaining.

3. I saw two negatives tonight worth noting. The first is that Donovan continues with this annoying habit of not reacting quickly enough when things are sluggish in the third quarter. Sometimes it happens. It’s fine. Sometimes you play a nice first half and when you come out for the second, the momentum is gone, the fans are milling around, the players lose a little edge. Happens quite a bit around the league. It is often more pronounced if you have an emotional high in the first half. Donovan just needs to recognize it faster-or at least do something about it faster. It was clear two minutes into the second half that the mojo was off. Thunder looked a little drab. Atlanta came out with good energy and attacked. That’s where Donovan needs to make a move. Whether it’s an earlier timeout and a set play or going to the bench earlier. He allowed that quarter to play out past the 6:00 minute make before he made a switch. My second complaint tonight would be that PG isn’t doing very well when he is being handed the keys. He does seem to be settling in a bit playing alongside Russ, which is good. But during those stretches early in the second and fourth quarters when he is on the floor and RW and Melo are not, he isn’t coming through. Tonight it wasn’t until Russ came back in (after we were down 4) that we regained some level of control. Russ is back to being Russ and Melo has always looked settled to me. He hasn’t always played well, but I think Melo has a role and is playing it. PG is the one still coming along slowly. He’s been OK the past two games, but there is still massive room for improvement.

4. The PG and Melo trades have left Presti with little room to maneuver in-season. I knew after the Melo deal that they would more or less need to sink or swim this year with what they had because they just don’t have the assets or cap space to bring on any sort of significant addition to the roster. However, there does always exist the possibility for a smaller move to be made. I think that potential move is now coming clear: The Thunder could really use a shooter off the bench. Abrines has had opportunities. He’s been very inconsistent. Hard for Donovan to rely on him. It’s funny but one of my points tonight was going to be to bring up Marco Belinelli as the type of player that would fit well in OKC. He basically plays the Abrines role, but with much more consistency and experience. There are a few other guys around the league today fit that mold as well. And if said player is on a non-contending team, it generally won’t take a whole lot to obtain them in a trade. This type of move likely doesn’t get made until very close to the deadline. And Abrines (and maybe others) will continue to get chances to earn a more permanent spot. But if no one steps up, I do see the Thunder potentially engaging in talks to acquire a Belinelli type.

5. Atlanta stinks record-wise, but most nights they are competitive. They are well coached. Not sure I can sit here and say the Thunder defense was “good” tonight but it wasn’t as bad as the 117 points yielded would indicate. The Hawks made everything down the stretch including a totally ridiculous shot from Illyasova with Adams in his face (the play where Adams got hit in the nads). In any event the Thunder could not rely on their D to save them tonight and they found a way to win on the other end instead. It’s another positive sign. It’s also a three point Home win against a lousy team so there is no need to go overboard about it. They played three in a row at home— they won them all. Russ is back to playing at an MVP level. All good things. Tomorrow will be interesting. They just crushed Utah, but playing in Salt Lake is a different animal— always has been. Especially on the second night of a back to back. Jazz also just beat the Spurs by double digits after losing to us to by 30. It’s been a good week for the Thunder, they can make it great by winning again in less than 24 hours.

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.

 

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Real Plus/Minus: OKC stops Warriors

The Oklahoma City Thunder put it all together nicely for four quarters, as they got a dominant 108-91 victory over the Golden State Warriors. It was a nice surprise, as the Thunder didn’t blow their big lead, and kept Golden State out of striking distance for the majority of the game.

PLUS

Jerami Grant

Jerami Grant was great early on the defensive side of the ball. Grant recorded two blocks on Kevin Durant that were at a crucial time that added to the crowd’s intensity. Grant has been fantastic this season off the bench that has been a tremendous asset for Coach Billy Donovan to unleash with either Paul George, Carmelo Anthony or Russell Westbrook in the second unit.

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook was at his very very best against the Golden State Warriors. Westbrook played 36:56 minutes shooting 13-of-27 for a season-high 34 points on 48.1 percent shooting with 10 rebounds and nine assists. It wasn’t just Westbrook’s offense that was a factor it was his defensive efforts especially early in the third quarter when Westbrook got back to back defensive stops leading to two buckets. Westbrook’s energy was immense for his team he set the tone early and continued it for 48 minutes and his team, and his fans thrived off it, and the Warriors were terrified.

Paul George

Last season Russell Westbrook had big games against the Warriors, and it mattered none as the warriors would go on and win by 20, this season Westbrook had help in Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, but it was George that was Westbrook’s biggest weapon. George played 39:45 minutes scoring 20 points on 8-of-19 on 42.1 percent with 11 rebounds, four steals, and two blocks. George has been tremendous from three-point range this year as he went 4-of-10 from three George has credited Westbrook for his uplift in three-point shooting but George is precisely what the Thunder ordered for Westbrook, and it is slowly coming together, and they are looking lethal.

Free throws

This season the Thunder have had issues on defense when they have had significant leads letting teams off the hook by fouling the shooters or by putting them into the bonus and putting the opposition on the free throw line. Against the Warriors, the Thunder only put the Warriors on the line 18 times that was a big win for the Thunder and their defense. The Thunder were able to get to the line themselves 26 times shooting 69.2 percent with Russell Westbrook getting to the line eight times making seven of them making 87.5 percent.

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Five Thoughts 11-22-17 (Thunder 108, Warriors 91)

1. Well, hopefully everyone feels better now. I mean this in all sincerity and not just in post game euphoria hyperbole: I would rather the Thunder be 8-9 with THAT performance against Golden State as opposed to being 13-4 with a loss tonight. Dead serious about that. The entire point of forming this team was to make a run at the Warriors. Even while acknowledging they’d still be underdogs, this formation’s goal was to be in that conversation. What we needed to see was that they are capable. No one expects this is how every meeting with the Dubs will play out. But we needed to see it— at least once. While it was one game and one game that mattered WAY more to OKC than it did GS, it wasn’t a fluke. There were real, tangible things that happened out there tonight that prove that the Thunder are a totally different team from last year. And a team that can legitimately give GS fits. As far as I’m concerned the other 9 losses can be put on a shuttle and sent to the Moon. They don’t matter. Not saying that the issues that plagued them in those games aren’t real or that they won’t reappear. But now that I’ve seen THAT, I can live with some ups and downs and even some clunkers.

2. Not sure I’ve ever seen the Dubs offense look that out of sync. We put forth an A+ defensive showing tonight. The scheme was great— our guards went over EVERY screen tonight. And Adams or Grant or whoever was guarding the screener also stayed out by the line. We were absolutely not going to allow open looks beyond the arc. The only time the Warriors saw those was on the break or scramble plays. Curry shook loose for a couple of launches, but those really weren’t good shots; can’t do much about it when those drop. When we had them in the half court, they struggled mightily to even get a clean shot off. It was remarkable. Thunder were committed 100% to remaining disciplined to that approach. While scheme is great, you can only do so much if you don’t have the horses to execute it. They could not have deployed this defense last year. They are able to do it now because of PG13. He was ALL OVER KD tonight. This also allowed Andre to slide over to Klay. And as Andre has proven time and again, as long as he isn’t up against a smaller, quicker guard, he can stick to anyone. It was also nice to see RW remain disciplined and not leave Curry to gamble elsewhere. No doubt the Warriors will adjust the next time we play. They will likely play with more urgency. They may very well shoot better. But what we did to them isn’t going away. We have the physical ability to do to them what no one else can do.

3. Mentioning this third is really burying the lead, but Russ was perfect tonight. That was a virtuoso performance. I’ve been saying all year, if you want to panic, go ahead— but call me when Russ gets back on track. If he gets going and we don’t look better, that’s when you should worry. Well, he got going tonight and we beat the Warriors with ease. We are going to be very, very tough to beat on nights where Russ is playing near peak level. And as this season progresses he will play at peak level more and more frequently. While we have three excellent options, this isn’t a democracy. They don’t all need to share the load equally. This is Russ’s team and PG and Melo need to fall in line behind him (in that order). Russ sets the tone, PG delivers stellar two-way performances, and Melo bails out the offense with his ISO game. That needs to be the identity. Russ was insanely aggressive tonight. He didn’t defer- he attacked. When he attacks the ball sharing will happen naturally. When he attacks the opportunities will open up for the others. Prior to tonight I think Russ has been trying to be polite, for lack of a better word. Then once things go a little south he tries to pull them out and it’s just all discombobulated. I don’t know this for sure, but I think both Melo and PG13 are ready to win. My guess is that they are both ok if Russ is the maestro. I’m sure tonight was pretty fun for all three of them. Russ left Curry in his wake tonight. It was a thing of beauty. That needs to be encouraged, not curtailed.

4. Donovan is patient. He doesn’t panic or fly off the handle. I think that’s a good approach to a team of NBA vets over the course of 82 games. I think he’s done his best job so far in his tenure with the Thunder in the bigger games/moments. I’ve mentioned this before, but he won me over in the 2016 playoffs against the Spurs and Warriors. Since then, I’ve always felt he was better in games that were played more like playoff games. I think he gives the guys a lot of room. I think he understands that going in too hard too often can be desensitizing. Tonight he had a plan for this specific opponent. Early in the game, he made a quick switch to Grant— much faster than normal. But he didn’t give up on Adams either. I watched as Adams exited the floor; Donovan walked stride for stride with him and was talking to him for quite awhile. Once Adams went back in, he had an excellent game. By picking your spots, I think you increase the odds of keeping the team motivated and emotionally engaged. You get a pay off on a night like tonight when the team executes the plan and it all works. Everyone files that away and begins to understand THAT is what winning basketball looks like.

5. Effort was off the charts tonight. Everyone is 100% lying when they say it’s just another game. They played it like a Game 7. They needed it. At the end, I thought Andre was going to need a stretcher to leave the court— he was exhausted. Crowd was awesome. It was a 23 point game in the 4th quarter and fans were reacting as if it was tied. This was a total exhale game for everyone involved with the Thunder. It’s been awhile since I left the arena feeling like that. I told my wife it’s like the Thunder waited until tonight to start the season. It would be nice if this propelled them into a winning streak; it’s about time to start making a move up the ladder. But even if things remain a bit rocky, tonight showed what this team CAN be. And now that we’ve seen it, it’s clear that it is worth the wait.

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.

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Real Plus/Minus in win over L.A. Clippers

The Oklahoma City Thunder were able to snap their four-game losing streak with a strong win at home over the Los Angeles Clippers, with a final score of 120-111. It was a big night for Thunder’s big three, especially Paul George. Oklahoma City also got nice contributions from a number of different role players in different areas of the game.

PLUS

Westbrook setting the tone

Russell Westbrook set the tone early for the Thunder. When this team needed a leader to step up, Westbrook stood up again as he has since he arrived. It wasn’t just the organization that needed Westbrook to step up it was the fans that also needed their man to stand up, and Westbrook knew it. Thunder fans put up the bat signal, and Batman answered.

Westbrook exploded early in the first quarter and told the fans to get loud on two consecutive, and one plays Westbrook got straight up and interacted with the crowd to get them on their feet and scream, and they did. Westbrook finished with 22 points three rebounds and eight assists shooting 8-of-16 at 50 percent. Westbrook was also impactful on defense with three steals.

Dakari Johnson

Steven Adams missed Friday night’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers which opened up a starting job. Everyone thought it would either be Jerami Grant or Patrick Patterson. Coach Billy Donovan threw a curveball and gave rookie Dakari Johnson the starting job, and he repaid the favor in spades. Johnson played 23:13 minutes scoring nine points on 3-of-5 shots at 60 percent he was able to get to the free throw line shooting 3-of-6 at 50 percent Johnson also was able to get one block and one steal.

If you’re a lover of stats, you didn’t get to see how good Johnson was against the Clippers. Johnson was fantastic against the Clippers all-star big men DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin, Johnson’s size, and athleticism was massive for the Thunder on defense and offense.

Jordan only managed nine points on 4-of-8 shooting at 50 percent. Jordan was still impactful on the boards recording 12 rebounds, but he was a minus 18 player for the Clippers when on the floor. This was a fantastic game for Johnson and may have earned himself some playing time going forward.

Finding the hot hand

When this new big three were put together, there was this constant discussion of will these three iso players be able to sacrifice and play as a team. There have been signs of them being able to work together look at their first game against the New York Knicks. There have also been signs of them not being able to play together, look at the game against the Utah Jazz and the Sacramento Kings. For me this game put that question to bed, against the Clippers Paul George was red hot, in the past, Westbrook would have still tried to get his 20-25 shots and the same for Carmelo Anthony but not tonight. Westbrook knew it was George’s night and both he and Anthony got the ball to George every chance possible.

Westbrook shot the ball 16 times and Anthony 12, George finished the game scoring 42 points on 13-of-22 shots at 59.1 percent and 4-of-7 from three at 57.1 percent. This game was a perfect example of Westbrook sacrificing to make this teamwork. This was the first time we got a strong message from Anthony that he wants this to work as well and it leads to a Thunder 120 – 111 win over the Clippers.

MINUS

Letting teams back into games

The Thunder were up by 20 points in the last quarter but let the Clippers comeback to within single digits. It’s been a common theme for this team; it seems to be a lack of concentration and taking an unnecessary risk on the part of Russell Westbrook. Westbrook often leaves his opponent to try and anticipate a pass or gambles on a steal which in turn leave’s his opponent wide open and in the first 10 games the opposition has made Westbrook and the Thunder pay.

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