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It seems a little ridiculous to label any opponent of a Thunder team that is supposed to be rebuilding this year a “trap game”, but this is the new reality in 2020.
After winning 8 of their past 9 games, including three straight victories over Toronto, Dallas and San Antonio, and with the 76ers, Nets, Rockets and Lakers on the horizon, you’d forgive OKC if they looked past the 10-24 Cleveland Cavaliers.
This version of the Thunder does not overlook any opponent, because they can’t afford to do so. In years past, with superstar laden teams, some OKC squads would have a tendency to play down to their opponent. With less top end talent than those past Thunder iterations, this roster filled with hungry youngsters and veterans with something to prove takes care of business against the bound for lottery teams.
The Thunder are now 14-1 in their last 15 games against teams with a current record below .500.
Tonight was a night of upsets. The 13-22 Grizzlies demoralized the 25-11 Clippers by 26 points. The 7-28 Hawks rocked the 22-13 Pacers. The 10-24 Bradley Beal-less Wizards whipped the 24-10 Nuggets by 14 points. The 14-23 Hornets shocked the 22-12 Mavs in overtime. And the 9-7 Tennessee Titans may have just ended the 12-4 New England Patriots’ dynasty (high five!).
But despite the underdog theme running the night, the Thunder wasn’t about to let the Cleveland Cavaliers upset anyone in Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse tonight.
Unless you count Kevin Love.
- Here’s how firmly planted the Thunder currently are in the 7 seed: OKC could lose their next 5 games, and the Blazers and Spurs could both win their next 5 games, and the Thunder would still remain in the 7 seed.
- The Thunder have won 5 straight games, tied with the Jazz and Bucks for the longest streak in the league.
- The Thunder have gone 9-1 over their last 10 games, tied with the Jazz for the best record in the league over that span.
- Nerlens Noel seemed to roll his ankle fairly badly in the second half. He left the game and we await an injury update from the team on Sunday. I thought we were taking a year-long break from stressing over things like injuries to key players. Thanks a lot for making me actually care about wins and losses this season, Thunder! Jerks.
- Terrance Ferguson bounced back from his shooting slump in a big way tonight. After going a combined 0-12 from 3 in his last four games, TFerg went 3-8 from downtown against the Cavs. He added two nice finishes at the rim to record 13 points, his highest total since November 15.
- Every starter scored in double digits tonight with the exception of CP3, who ended his night with only 7 points on 3-9 shooting. I guarantee if the Thunder would’ve been trailing by 20 points coming into the fourth quarter, CP3 would’ve finished with 30 points on 13-19 shooting.
- Shai continues to impress, scoring 20 points on 9 of 14 shooting. The most impressive thing is that he’s been so good, 20 on 64% shooting seems like a disappointment.
- Dennis Schroder wears #17 and has scored 17 points or more in 17 straight games. Which just makes me wish he wore #82.
- His final numbers don’t pop out, but Darius Bazley had a two minute stretch where he dominated the game. On consecutive possessions, he ripped a 3 pointer, played perfect post defense on Kevin Love, drove to the rim, missed a shot, grabbed an offensive rebound, was fouled on the attempt, made both free throws and then blocked Love at the bucket. The flashes of talent are apparent. If this 19 year old rookie starts putting it all together, he could be an important member of Thunder U 2.0.
- Find a life partner who makes you as happy as drawing charges makes Steve Adams happy.
- Hamidou Diallo had two dunks tonight that would have sent Loud City into an uproar. But they were completely wasted on a Cavaliers crowd too busy googling “Kevin Love trade ideas” to pay the proper respect to the reigning dunk champ.
- Michael Cage quoted Eddie Murphy in Trading Places and Chris Fisher had no idea what he was talking about. Cage officially has moved ahead of Grant Long on my all-time Thunder Broadcast Team rankings, while Fisher now falls below Kelly Crull.
- The Oklahoma City Thunder have a better chance of winning a championship this year than the New England Patriots.
- Up next: on the road against the slumping 76ers on Monday night. Unfortunately, the 4 straight games Philly has lost have all been on the road, where they are a weak 7-12. At home, on the other hand, they’re a buff 16-2.