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Thunder Journal: Game 3 Big Things

Thunder Journal: Game 3 Big Things

The Thunder are up 2-0 in a playoff series for the first time since 2013. As they aim to go up 3-0 in Game 3, here's a trifecta of observations from the opening round so far.

So far, so very good

The 2014 Western Conference Finals team led by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook that won 59 games somehow never led a series 2-0. The infamous 2016 OKC team that was up 3-1 on the Warriors didn’t do it. The 2024 Thunder has already won more playoff games than the Russ MVP squad and the Russ/PG13 team eliminated by Dame’s bad shot in 2019. In two games, the new era Big 3 has won as many playoff games as the Carmelo Anthony was a part of the OK3 in 2018.

Here are more fun numbers after Game 2:

  • OKC’s 124-92 win in Game 2 is the biggest margin of victory so far in the 2024 playoffs.
  • Every single one of the Thunder’s 124 points were scored by a player aged 25 or younger. First time that’s ever happened in NBA history.
  • Chet Holmgren became the first rookie with 15 points on 100% shooting in any playoff quarter in the last 25 years. Chet is also the first rookie with 15 points in a first quarter in the last 25 years.

It’s only a two game sample size against a team missing their best player, but the Pelicans are still a good team without Zion Williamson. And so far, neither inexperience nor the bright lights of the playoffs have seemed to be a factor for the youngest #1 seed in NBA history. Despite the hot take narrative, the Thunder through two games are thoroughly beating the “weakest #1 seed of all time” allegations.

The Big 3 4

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has looked every bit the part of a top-3 MVP finalist so far in the playoffs. The NBA Twitter accounts that said SGA’s game wouldn’t translate to the postseason have gone awfully quiet. Chet Holmgren has been absolutely dominant on both sides of the court. His rim protection was key in Game 1 and his scoring was key in Game 2. Chet with rest is a different beast. Jalen Williams has continued his transformation into an NBA star. Shaq, a notorious young player skeptic, was fawning over JDub on national TV: “You a bad boy, Jalen.” 

But let’s hear it for Lu Dort.

The Thunder absolutely do not win Game 1 without Dort’s smothering defense on Brandon Ingram. Luguentz held BI to only 12 points on 5-17 shooting in the first matchup. In Game 2, Dort scored 15 points, hit 4 of 6 three pointers and just made Ingram give up trying to score in the first half. By the time Ingram got going in the third quarter, the game was pretty much out of hand.

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