Game 20 Recap: Pacers (14-7) def. Thunder (8-12) 107-100
Official Box Score link
It’s almost like the Thunder have a template they’re using when they play these games.
Step 1: Let Steven Adams assert his dominance over the opposing center and score 10 points in the first four minutes and jump out to a nice lead.
Step 2: Pull Adams and let the opposing team go on a run to make it a close game.
Step 3: Insert Dennis Schroder into the game and have him take a shot on every possession.
Step 4: Insert Abdel Nader to give Schroder some competition in shot volume.
Step 5: Go into halftime with the score within 3 points.
Step 6: It’s the third quarter, just pray for the best.
Step 7: Fourth quarter, time to make it exciting and take the lead back.
Step 8: Oh hi Chris Paul, welcome to the game.
Step 9: Make it a one possession game with less than a minute remaining. Okay Steven, you’re allowed to take shots again.
Step 10a: If at home: win an exciting, fun, close game to a playoff team.
Step 10b: If on the road: lose an exciting, fun, close game to a playoff team but increase your chances for a better draft pick.
Step 10c: If at home but have won too much recently: lose an exciting, fun, close game to a playoff team but increase your chances for a better draft pick.
Almost all the games this season have been remarkably predictable and similar. And the Thunder did not stray from the formula tonight against the visiting Pacers.
This game was a huge improvement over their previous contest with Indiana, a 26 point road loss that was one of only two times the Thunder have veered from the template and been blown out this season.
The pivotal moment of the game was with 16 seconds left, the Thunder down 103-100, and after a possession of passing the ball around to find the best shot, CP3 found Terrance Ferguson for a wide open 3 to tie the game. TFerg missed a great look, and that was ball game. And while you’d like to see Gallinari, Paul or Shai take the game winning shot, Ferguson is a plus 3 point shooter, he was wide open, and it’s nice to show trust in all your guys. It was the right shot, it just didn’t fall.
Which was all according to plan. It was a Step 10c night.
- If the Thunder had won tonight, they would’ve been tied with the Suns for the #8 seed in the playoffs.
- Just think about that for a minute. OKC lost Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Jerami Grant. They have had one of the league’s toughest schedules. They’re a rebuilding team. And yet, a quarter of the way through the season, had the final 30 seconds gone differently tonight, the Thunder would’ve been tied for a playoff spot. This team just refuses to believe the narrative that they’re not good enough.
- If NBA games only lasted 4 minutes, Steven Adams would be running away with league MVP.
- On a play early in the game, you could hear Sabonis’s hand get slapped from the media section. A non-call from the refs led to a Nader fast break and layup. If the Thunder were playing the Rockets, this game would be protested and would have to be re-played.
- Pacers ran a lineup with Sabonis, Lamb and McDermott. Oladipo, of course, is on the roster but not back from injury yet. The Pacers are more obsessed with ex Thunder players than Bill Simmons.
- This game is a prime example of how much better the Thunder are at home than on the road. OKC has only been blown out twice, both on the road, once in Indiana by a score of 111-85. Tonight, Thunder are up at halftime. Loud City gives this team that juice.
- Steven Adams was a perfect 8 for 8 from the field and a perfect 4 for 4 from the free throw line.
- This following his previous game against the Pelicans when he went 5 of 6 from the free throw line in the closing moments to ice the game. Adams is now 9 of his last 10 from the line. Small sample size, but it’s fair to say that Steven is now a 90% free throw shooter going forward.
- A Thunder fan hit 9 free throws during the MidFirst half-court shot contest. That ties the all-time record. Not bad, but he’s no Steven Adams.
- SGA is in a slump over his past three games. He scored 17 points on 19 shots tonight, including 1 of 7 from long range. He continues to be aggressive and flash his otherworldly skills, though, even while struggling. I have full faith the bounce back is coming soon.
- There was a malfunction in the Matrix tonight. Chris Paul did not use the rip move one single time.
- CP3 scored his first points of the game on a nice fadeaway with 5:10 left in the fourth quarter. Thirty seconds later, he hit another jumper and it looked like we might be treated to another clutch closing Chris Paul performance, but those were his only four points all night.
- OKC faces off against Minnesota at home on Friday night. I’m telling you now so that you can go ahead and start mentally preparing yourselves for Andrew Wiggins to score 50 absurd points and hit a 40 foot banked off the glass game winner.