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I snickered when I noticed before tipoff that the betting line for this game had the Thunder favored by 12.5 points over the injury and trade ravaged Pistons.
Has nobody in Las Vegas watched any Oklahoma City games this season?
You can count on three things: death, taxes and every single Thunder game this year coming down to one or two possessions in the final few minutes, when any one of the three headed point guard monster takes over and hits clutch shots to lead OKC to victory.
It doesn’t matter if it’s the Detroit Pistons with Blake Griffin and Luke Kennard on the mend and Andre Drummond on a plane to Cleveland or if it’s the 1990’s Chicago Bulls, the Thunder aren’t blowing anyone out by 12.5 points nor getting blown out by 12.5 points.
But alas, just as betting world bookies’ beliefs in this Thunder team have risen throughout the season, so have Thunder fans’ expectations.
Tonight’s underwhelming win over the depleted but feisty Pistons featuring Reggie “Tears of Joy” Jackson highlights that changed perception of this Thunder team. OKC took care of business and walked away with a win, and yet instead of celebrating another crunch time victory, this win was mostly met with a hearty “meh.”
Earlier this season, any win, no matter the skill of the opponent, felt like a major accomplishment. But as the victories continue to pile up, Thunder fans’ belief in this team continues to grow. And since OKC has the second best winning percentage in the NBA since Thanksgiving at 26-9 (shout out to Karl Anthony Towns’ 0-17 mark during that span), Loud City’s confidence in this squad is at an all-time high.
Thunder fans are still enjoying a mostly stress free, entertaining, and unexpectedly successful march to the playoffs this season. And even when the team lays a dud against a lesser foe, they still find a way to eke out an exciting win.
Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, Dennis Schroder and Steven Adams have given us enough evidence through 52 games to know that we can bet on them to make the plays needed down the stretch to beat any team on any night.
But if they’re favored by double digits or more, you might wanna bet against.
- The Thunder have now won 4 straight games, most in the West.
- The Thunder are 9-1 in their last 10, best in the West.
- The Thunder are now alone in the 6 spot, a full game ahead of the Mavs.
- The Thunder is 1.5 games behind the Jazz for the 4 seed and 1 game behind the Rockets for the 5 seed.
- The Thunder are 7 games behind the Lakers for the 1 seed and 8.5 games ahead of the Trail Blazers for the 8 seed.
- With Terrance Ferguson back, Abdel Nader healthy and Lu Dort offcially a part of the rotation, it looks like Hamidou Diallo is out of the rotation for now. Says a lot about Dort that he leapfrogged Ferguson, Nader and Diallo so quickly. May also say something about Ferguson, Nader and Diallo.
- Every game I wait for Dennis Schroder to fall back down to earth. Every game Dennis Schroder does not fall back down to earth. I think this is just who he is now, and it’s glorious.
- Every time OKC plays against Reggie Jackson, I think about how he wrote “SPG” on his shoes for “starting point guard.” With Russell Westbrook on his team. That’d be like me getting an internship at ESPN & writing “SBW” for “starting beat writer” with Royce Young ahead of me.
- Tip of the hat to the Thunder music team for playing “Friends In Low Places” while the refs review a Reggie Jackson play.
- Shout out to the Pistons’ Christian Wood. I can see why Detroit denied every trade call they got on him. The 24 year old had a 27/12/5 line and scored from everywhere.
- Shai scored 21 on 7 of 13 shooting but only came up with 2 rebounds and 1 assist. He continues to swat shots, as he recorded 2 tonight to give him 9 straight games with a block. SGA has 18 blocks in that span.
- Chris Paul scored an efficient team high 22 points on 7 of 11 shooting. In typical CP3 fashion, 10 of his 22 came in the decisive 4th quarter.
- Steven Adams abused the much thinner Thon Maker in the post, scoring 16 points and grabbing 8 boards.
- Danilo Gallinari’s pregame intro applause was noticeably louder than it’s ever been. Best way to get OKC to love you forever and ever? Stay in OKC.
- Dennis Schroder on not being traded away from OKC: “At the end of the day, it didn’t happen, and I’m glad it didn’t.”
- Chris Paul on the Thunder not trading anyone away at the deadline: “We’re gonna make a run at this thing. We got our group.”
- Up next: Celtics in OKC on Sunday. Boston is riding a 6 game win streak, OKC is riding a 4 game win streak. But the real question is, which team is Kendrick Perkins going to root for on Twitter?