What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
This game waxed and waned between being a somewhat fun dunkfest and an embarassingly lopsided Thunder clinic. But a couple weeks from now, all you'll think of is the latter. The New York Knicks were missing two starters in Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton. But even then, the dropoff in talent wasn't really the Knicks downfall tonight. It was just an extremely disorganized team that can only manage to play reliable basketball half of the time. I don't watch all of the Knicks games, so I'm not going to make any claims about them outside of this game, but I got that distinct impression from them tonight.
The most egregiously bad players on the Knicks end of the ball were J.R. Smith and Andrea Bargnani. Smith was basically playing streetball out there. Sure, he was good for a decent 2nd quarter run and wasn't completely atrocious when its was all said and done. But when the offensive play starts and ends with him every single time, you've got to question whether he's doing the right thing. Bargnani, on the other hand, was decent offensively but downright deplorable defensively. He never really seemed to care about helping defend the pick and roll, and he literally tried to flop during a 1 on 1 against Perk. Yes, THAT Perk.
On the Thunder's side of things, they were a well oiled machine. They could pretty much get whatever shot they wanted, and the only real offensive droughts seemed to come when they couldn't hit open threes. I'm really not trying to pile on New York right now, but I honestly can't think of a single thing they did right on defense. Other than maybe some decent defense near the rim, at times.
What was, overall, the main reason why the Thunder won?
Carmelo Anthony's DNP. But really, I felt like this game started to slip away from the Knicks in the second quarter. The Thunder's bench kicked through a decent lead, and the Thunder started to match up with the Knicks and experiment with smaller lineups. The experiment wasn't that successful, as J.R. Smith was able to give his team a bit of steam. But every time he got a shot that might have galvanized the Knicks, the Thunder responded immediately. By the time the third quarter rolled around, the Knicks were just firing up terrible threes, and the Thunder quickly closed the book on this game.
If we want to get into things other than runs, I think the Thunder did a great job of adjusting to the Knicks gameplan. We've seen recently that the Thunder have made an all-or-nothing commitment to protecting the rim, which may have hurt them dearly on Sunday against the Raptors. And I shudder to think of what it might do against the floor-spacing Heat. But tonight, they were content to stay home on shooters and not overtly force the turnover issue, and it really worked out well. New York wasn't able to get too many easy shots, and Oklahoma City simply cruised along with their offense. There were a few more buckets for the Knicks in the paint, but when they come away shooting 6-23 from beyond the arc, I can't complain.
What as a key statistic to understanding the game?
According to ABC, tonight's loss was the worst Christmas Day loss....ever. Yup.
What does this game mean to the Thunder tonight and going forward?
Right now, it gives the team a signature win on the first true national TV broadcast that they'll get. It definitely gets them a lot of hype around the league, and re-asserts their dominance after the disaster against Toronto. Moving forward, it's just another step towards that 73-9 season (:-P). But seriously, the win ties Oklahoma City with Portland for first in the Northwest Division and Western Conference. Portland holds the tiebreaker via a 1-0 record against OKC. Both teams are tied with Indiana for the NBA lead.
Also, the Thunder are playing Portland at home on New Years' Eve. GET HYPE!
|Final - 12.25.2013
|Oklahoma City Thunder
|New York Knicks