4 min read

Thursday Bolts: 10.25.18

Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) previews tonight’s Thunder/Celtics matchup: “In the 48 hours leading up to a game, when the Thunder isn’t faced with a back-to-back situation, Billy Donovan pours over film. He’s writing down notes and analyzing how they upcoming opponent is defending. He’s assessing what offensive actions can be effective, what to make the team aware of and what’s going to happen in certain situations. He determines what matchups to be aware of and what plays the opponent is running and how his squad can effectively and efficiently guard in the best way. A game like Thursday’s against the Boston Celtics is a prime opportunity for Donovan to maximize that information gathering process, since the Thunder has had three full days at home between games. Yet, to paraphrase French philosopher Blaise Pascal’s famous yet misappropriated quote, “I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter”, the more time Donovan or any coach has, the more concise and effective he can make his lesson plan.”

Maddie Lee (Oklahoman) on the Thunder looking to clean up transition defense ahead of tonight: “The Thunder are shooting 39 percent from the field through three games, putting them dead last in the league. They are also leading the NBA with 16.3 offensive rebounds per game, but if OKC wants to keep its shooting woes from hurting it on defense as well, its track record has proven they can’t just rely on that ability. While Donovan said he has been encouraged by the way his team has been creating good shots, even when they weren’t making them, Steven Adams pointed out that shot selection also plays into transition defense. “Transition defense is really difficult if you take a bad shot and no one is really in their place, necessarily, to get back,” Adams said. “If they’re halfway through the play and you throw up just some shot, a lot of them are not in a position to get back in time.”

Chris Murch (Thunder Wire) on Alex Abrines and his availability against Boston: “After getting hit with an inadvertent elbow from teammate Nerlens Noel in Sunday night’s loss to the Kings, Thunder head coach Billy Donovan expects Alex Abrines to play against the Celtics on Thursday night. While Abrines was not a full participant in Wednesday’s practice, there is a belief among Thunder personnel that he is trending toward being ready to play after being listed as probable due to an eye/mouth contusion injury.”

Bill Haisten (Tulsa World) on a “must-win” in the season’s fourth game: “In field goal percentage overall, the Thunder also is last in the league at 39 percent. At 45 percent last season, Oklahoma City was in the middle of the pack in the league rankings. In free throw percentage, of the 30 teams in the NBA, the Thunder is 29th at 66.7 percent. There was a time when the Thunder routinely finished seasons at better than 80 percent. Through three games, there have been 30 missed free throws. The Thunder of 2012-13 didn’t reach the 30 mark on missed free throws until the eighth game of the season. That team finished 60-22. OKC is committing 15.3 turnovers a game. It’s not a horrible average, but 20 other teams are better at taking care of the basketball. So, yes, the Thursday clash with Boston is significant. It’s a must-win game for Oklahoma City, and a must-watch game for Thunder fans.”

Life down low should be easier versus the Celtics:

Royce Young (ESPN) goes inside the Thunder’s year-long recruitment of Paul George: “PLANNING THE SUMMER Hype House Party didn’t take a week, or a month. It took a whole year. After the Thunder traded for George in July 2017, the front office knew exactly how much time it had to help George visualize a future with the franchise, and it wasn’t wasting a minute of it. Most pundits and suits around the league saw the George acquisition as a one-year rental. The Thunder saw a one-year opportunity. They were going to be intentional, direct, honest and transparent. Their plan wasn’t just blatant recruitment, though. If other teams would approach his long-term signing as if they were trying to sell George a car, the Thunder would disassemble the entire thing and hope he’d marvel at all the intricate parts that make it run.”

Dan Favale (B/R) gauges the Thunder’s panic meter: “Trading Carmelo Anthony was probably the right move, but Oklahoma City doesn’t have proven alternatives in place. Terrance Ferguson and Hamidou Diallo are young and raw. Patrick Patterson doesn’t look like the same offensive player. Jerami Grant may never consistently expand his game. Abrines isn’t much of an asset when his three-pointers aren’t falling.  Using the defense as a crutch won’t work this time. Until Andre Roberson returns, the Thunder don’t have the stopping-power juice to maximize winning ugly. Their pursuit of offensive boards hurts their ability to ward off transition attacks, and they’re fouling in excess. Failure to scrounge up more offensive range could put this team in the lottery-watch boat. Panic Meter: High-ish alert”

Adam Fromal (B/R) discusses Nerlens Noel’s first week in a Thunder jersey: “Though Nerlens Noel hasn’t yet carved out a prominent role for the Oklahoma City Thunder—the team has been extraordinarily cautious about deploying him alongside Steven Adams—he’s thrived when he does receive run. Per 36 minutes, the springy big man is averaging 16.2 points, 15.3 rebounds and 2.7 blocks while knocking down 80 percent of his field-goal attempts. To be fair, he hasn’t always helped his own cause. Fouling out in 13 minutes during a Sunday loss to the Sacramento Kings wasn’t exactly ideal.”

This is something:

Around the League: Steph dropped 51 in three quarters last night…. The Lakers got their first win of the season…. Devin Booker tweaked his hamstring…. Donovan Mitchell has busted his slump…. Recapping all of last night’s action…. Inside the NBA’s scoring boom.