Game 61 Recap: Clippers (42-19) def. Thunder (37-24) 109-94
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First the bad news: I don’t think the Oklahoma City Thunder are winning the NBA championship this season.
The Clippers and Bucks are two of the three teams considered true title contenders. The Thunder lost to those teams in back to back games by a combined 62 points. Now, the circumstances and performances in the Milwaukee game made that 47 point blasting an outlier, but the point remains.
Since Thanksgiving, this has mostly been a season of sunshine and rainbows for the Thunder and their fans. Summer expectations of a tanking, trading tear down gradually gave way to heightened hopes. Perhaps these past two games were needed reminders that while this Thunder season may be a fairy tale existence, it’s not likely to end with a happily ever after.
In the words of Stuart Smalley: and that’s… okay.
OKC is going to make the playoffs. They had an All Star this season. They are likely to have the Sixth Man of the Year winner. They have a good chance to win the most games since 2016. They may even win 50 games.
None of those things seemed remotely possible in October.
By February, the Thunder seemed a Cinderella set to crash the NBA’s March Madness in April.
Two evil stepsisters named Giannis and Kawhi ripped the statement jersey right off of Chris Paul and reminded Thunder fans that they’re not invited to the ball.
This Clippers team is just ridiculously stacked. Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Lou Williams, Marcus Morris, Patrick Beverley, Montrezl Harrell, Landry Shamet, JaMychal Green, Ivaca Zubac. Not to mention their latest addition: a point guard so good, he should’ve taken over Russell Westbrook’s starting role in Oklahoma City. According to him.
There’s no shame in losing to the Bucks and a full strength Clippers squad. There’s a good chance those teams will be playing for the title in June. The margins of victory made for an excruciating past 96 minutes for OKC diehards, but these blowouts will not be the games that define this fun, competitive squad.
Cause here’s the good news: the Oklahoma City Thunder don’t have to win the NBA championship for this to be a successful season. That’s already happened.
- Tonight was a big help to the Thunder’s 2020 draft class.
- This loss moved the Thunder outside the Top 10 in the standings, so they currently still own their own pick.
- The team formerly known as the Warriors somehow beat the Denver Nuggets, so with a win, the Clippers moved ahead of the Nuggets and improved OKC’s Denver draft pick by one spot.
- Patrick Beverley and Reggie Jackson vs the Thunder. Gotta be the most disliked duo to play in OKC since Kevin Durant and his burner account.
- Dennis Schroder (the future title holder), Lou Williams (the current title holder) and Montrezl Harrell (the future title holder’s biggest competition) all took turns trying to out-Sixth Man of the Year each other.
- With 24 points, Schroder won the battle tonight. Just as he will win the war come NBA Awards night.
- I spotted a fan wearing a Patrick Patterson Thunder jersey. I’ve officially seen more fans wearing a Patrick Patterson Thunder jersey tonight than I did the entire time Patterson played for the Thunder.
- Abdel Nader swatted a PG13 shot. So was tonight a loss, really?
- Still thankful to Paul George for the night he partied in Edmond with Nas, lit up a cigar and signed Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, 5 1st round picks and 2 pick swaps to a contract extension.
- Shai’s line: 15p/6r/2a/3b/1s. PG13’s line: 16p/5r/3a/0b/2s. Pretty similar statistics and impact for the two players who will forever be linked in OKC.
- The player with the best plus minus number tonight for the Thunder? Lu Dort with a +11. Plus minus is the most important stat in basketball!
- The player with the second best plus minus number tonight for the Thunder? Abdel Nader with a +10. Plus minus is the most meaningless stat in basketball.
- In the Bucks and Clippers, the Thunder played two of the top title contenders back to back. In the Pistons and Knicks, the Thunder are playing two of the top #1 overall pick contenders back to back.
- Up next: at Detroit on Wednesday night. The great thing about a game tomorrow night: a chance for the Thunder to get the bad taste of two big losses out of their mouth. The Pistons are one of the best mouthwashes in the league.