Welcome to the holiday season (or is it szn, now?).
Royce Young (ESPN) on the Thunder’s convincing victory over the Milwaukee Bucks: “Playing on the road against the Bucks was a good test to gauge where the Thunder stood and whether the positive momentum of the past few games would continue to build. And the Thunder set the tone early, as Westbrook sparked their best half of the season, a dominant first 24 minutes that put the Bucks on their heels. “That first half, that’s how I would love to see us play,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “I feel like when we play like that the floor’s so spaced it takes advantage of all those guys.”
Royce Young on the Thunder not picking up Josh Huestis’ 4th year option: “The Thunder elected to not exercise the $2.2 million team option for a few reasons, a primary one being the lack of evidence on Huestis and his fit with the roster. Before this season, he’d appeared in only seven total games in two years. Future roster and luxury tax implications also factored in, with the Thunder’s planning for the hopeful re-signing of both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Committing to pay Huestis $2.2 million next season could translate to as much as $7 million with relation to the tax.” Continue reading NTTB Rumblings – 01 Nov 2017→
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
Line: OKC -1.5 | O/U – 212.5
Consistency is something the Oklahoma City Thunder have been lacking this season. Play one great game and follow it up with a subpar game. And while a lot of that may have to do with the opponent (all the losses have come against teams that will likely be in the playoffs), the Thunder have got to start winning those games.
Tonight is no different. After obliterating the Chicago Bulls on Saturday, the Thunder face one of the up and coming teams in the East in the Milwaukee Bucks. Giannis Antetokounmpo is playing like a bonafide MVP candidate and the rest of the team is playing well in their roles. Continue reading Thunder @ Bucks preview (Game 7 of 82)→
Today feels like revenge. I don’t know why, but it just does.
Kristian Winfield (SB Nation) on Paul George and Carmelo Anthony finally having the perfect superstar teammate: “Here is Westbrook — reigning league MVP, all-time single-season triple-double leader, and walking terminator — who carried his team of non All-Stars to a competitive first-round exit to the Houston Rockets in the playoffs. Now, enter two more All-Stars, two more egos, and two more offensive superstars who each need to eat to be satisfied. Or so we thought. That’s the beauty of what Anthony said. Russell Westbrook can have the main course — let Melo and PG-13 have the sides.”
David Brandon (16 Wins A Ring) looks at the shooting guards on the roster: “Huestis is the surprise. After barely playing, and even then largely playing at the 4, Huestis has seen significant backcourt and frontcourt minutes over the last few games. He’s definitely not where he needs to be yet on rotations, but Huestis might wind up a usable member of the team, which not many observers expected. Though he’s worse defensively than Roberson and worse offensively than Abrines, he’s more well-rounded than both, with a clean release on his 3-point shot and good balance navigating screens on the perimeter. He fouls too much, but that might work itself out with time. Don’t fool yourself—at this point he’s maaaaaybe replacement level. But that might be just enough for now.”
Kyle Wagner (FiveThirtyEight) on the Thunder’s sudden inability to rebound: “However, the George and Anthony moves do seem to have had an effect on another piece of the team’s core identity: For the first time in a decade, the Thunder are struggling to rebound. The Thunder have grabbed just 47.5 percent of available rebounds in their first three games — about 6 percentage points lower than last year and 24th in the league. As a team, the Thunder haven’t finished outside the top 10 since they moved to Oklahoma City.”
Royce Young (ESPN) on the referees missing two calls down the stretch against the Thunder: “The NBA announced Monday that there was one incorrect no-call and noted the officiating crew didn’t see Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau calling for timeout in the final five seconds of the frantic finish against the Thunder that led to Andrew Wiggins’ game-winning buzzer-beater Sunday. Karl-Anthony Towns’ screen on Paul George that freed Wiggins was ruled to have been illegal, based on Towns’ stance being too wide. The report notes that Towns was stationary but his leg was out, which clipped George.”
Jack Maloney (CBS Sports) with a great break-down of the Thunder last 10 possessions in crunch time: “Thus, as Sunday night’s matchup with the Minnesota Timberwolves went down to the wire, the new-look Thunder were put into a close game for the first time. Last season, there was no debate who would have the ball in the clutch: Russell Westbrook. But with Carmelo Anthony and Paul George — each a No. 1 option used to having the ball down the stretch for his old team — now in town, how they would handle end of game situations was one of the main questions heading into the season.”
Royce Young (ESPN) on the crazy finish from last night’s game: “It was the perfect finish, the ideal answer to the first crunch time test for the new look Oklahoma City Thunder. Russell Westbrook remained the clutch-time king, hitting three 3-pointers and scoring 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the final five minutes. But in the biggest spot, after Karl-Anthony Towns put the Minnesota Timberwolves up two with 8.9 seconds remaining, Westbrook did what many within the team claimed he’d do, but many outside were skeptical of — he found the open man. He drove right at Carmelo Anthony’s defender, and dropped a pass off to an open Anthony, who splashed the go-ahead 3-pointer with 4.9 seconds left. Then, Andrew Wiggins went and messed it all up.”
Royce Young (ESPN) explaining why the Thunder could have a crunch-time conundrum on their hands: “With Paul George and Carmelo Anthony now his teammates, that appears likely to change. “Carmelo’s been a closeout guy the places he’s been, the same thing with Paul. But any time you have a team you have to do it by finding the open man,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “Clearly for us last year, somebody creating and generating a shot for himself or someone else, it was Russell. But obviously now with Carmelo and Paul being here, I think it’s about making the right play and right decision.”
Before we even go into specifics, there are three things you need to know about this game:
It was the first preseason game for both teams.
The Thunder were without Russell Westbrook, Patrick Patterson, and Alex Abrines.
The Houston Rockets launched 55! three-pointers (Why?)
In essence, the Thunder treated this game like it was a preseason game. Work out little kinks here and there, let the starters get comfortable with each other for the first half, and find out what you have from the bench. Houston, on the other hand, almost treated this game like it was a regular season game. The eight players who will likely be prominently featured in Houston’s rotation all played over 20 minutes, with James Harden leading the way with 29 minutes. Continue reading Rockets beat the new look Thunder 104-97→