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Thunder Views: A Grim Win in Detroit

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Seven wins in a row, but one major loss.

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

I’m going to keep today’s Thunder Views short and sweet, minus the sweet.

The good: Seven wins in a row, a Russ triple double, & PG is an all-star.

The bad: Andre Roberson is done for the season, along with Boogie Cousins (which allowed PG to replace him in the all-star game).

Spotlight

There’s going to be a ton of coverage on Andre Roberson’s season-ending knee injury over the next few days, so I’ll be as brief and straightforward as possible.

The Thunder finally seemed to be hitting their stride and have now lost arguably their best perimeter defender. His value on the defensive side of the ball are irreplaceable, and this will without question hurt the remainder of OKC’s season. Here’s a look at their defensive ratings with and without Dre:

If that comparison alone doesn’t show you how important he is to this team, I’m not sure what will.

The Thunder lead the NBA in steals and deflections as of today. Without Roberson, these numbers will drop significantly. He’s not raking up steals on the stat-sheet, but Dre is the force behind so many of these takeaways. As he creates pressure on the perimeter, players are forced to make uncomfortable/forced passes, leading to steals for Russ, PG, and Steven Adams.

Fred Katz put it perfectly:

“Andre Roberson is not just a good defender. He is far beyond that at this point. The way great offensive players make players around him better, that’s what he does on defense.”

So now what?

Well, there’s a few things to look at. One would assume that Sam Presti will be looking into some defensive replacements. The trade deadline is 12 days away, so he has a small window to do so if he wants to acquire another perimeter presence. The market for perimeter defenders is rather slim, but any help replacing will be beneficial at this point. For now however, I think it’s better to send your prayers in the direction of Roberson, rather than speculate potential trades.

Terrance Ferguson will likely replace Roberson in the starting lineup for now. Starting Ferguson for the rest of the season seems like a risky move, so we’ll see what Presti has up his sleeve.

Quick Rumbles

  • Russ got his NBA-best 15th triple-double of the season on Saturday. He finished with 31-11-13.
  • Carmelo Anthony became the 21st player in league history to reach 25,000 points for his career. He had 21 on the night.
  • OKC is now only one game out of third place.
  • The Thunder have won 6 out of 7 games on the road since the middle of December.
  • Since December 1, OKC is 21-8. That’s the second best record in the NBA over that span.
  • Paul George was chosen to replace DeMarcus Cousins in this year’s all-star game. Snub no more!

A Look Ahead

The Thunder head home to play host to the 76ers later tonight.