Tuesday night was spot on for the 2017-18 Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Thunder were facing a potential five game losing streak, searching for their defensive identity without Andre Roberson, and seemed to be plagued by extensive fatigue. So naturally they came out last night and smoked the defending champs by 20 points on the road.
They’ve played to their competition all year long, but have consistently showed up in primetime games against the league’s best competition. OKC is now 5-0 this season against Golden State, Houston, Toronto, and Cleveland. No other team in the NBA is undefeated against those four teams. But there’s a catch to playing to your competition - you can go 26-24 against everyone else - which is exactly what they’ve done.
OKC dominated Golden State in all facets of the game last night. Fred Katz and Brett Dawson had the perfect reactions:
The fact that I wasn't expecting this to happen at all is EXACTLY why I should've expected this to happen.— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) February 7, 2018
Lose at home to the Lakers and blow out the Warriors in Oakland is among the Thunderest three days of the season.— Brett Dawson (@BDawsonWrites) February 7, 2018
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy these “Thunderest” days. Sure, losing to under .500 teams sucks, but beating the NBA’s elite is really fun, and it’s helped me to stay positive about this group, even without Roberson. The Thunder have shown up when it matters. If they can focus this down to a little consistency, especially before playoff time, they’ll be a tough out for anyone.
Russell Westbrook and Paul George were incredible last night, to the point where it felt like they could do whatever they wanted against the league-leading Warriors.
Westbrook jumped out to a crazy start, exploding for 21 points on 9/11 shooting in the Thunder’s second highest-scoring quarter of the year. OKC would never look back, as Russ managed to help set the pace, controlling the tempo from start to finish. Klay Thompson is a great defender, and the reigning MVP made him look lost at times on Tuesday. He struggled to stay in front of Westbrook on multiple occasions. Russ finished the night with a cool line of 34-9-9.
Paul George is one of the NBA’s best two-way players, and he showcased that last night. George had 38 points, but was sensational in all areas of the game. He took the reigns after Russ’ quick start, and never let the Warriors get without shouting distance.
I’ve praised George’s defensive ability endlessly over the last few weeks, so I’m just going to leave a clip below. Just look at his ability to battle through screens while using the length to his advantage. Remarkable.
Once everyone gets matched up on this play, look at how OKC’s bigs do not need to help as Thompson weaves around screens. PG’s length and physicality through contact mean the screener doesn’t pop open for a shot. Defense at its best here when limited help is needed. pic.twitter.com/u8kEUdOPua— Dylan Murphy (@DylanTMurphy) February 7, 2018
George also had a ridiculous sequence in the third quarter last night that nearly made NBA Twitter explode.
First it was this:
Followed by this just a minute later:
- This made me very happy:
- Abrines has looked much more comfortable and confident over the last few games. Last night was arguably his best defensive game of the season.
- The Thunder played a really good third quarter on Tuesday night. Good third quarters are always noteworthy.
- Carmelo Anthony left the game early with a right ankle sprain. Billy Donovan gave no update on the injury post-game, however there was no walking boot and he was not noticeably limping.
- OKC are 2-0 this season against Golden State, winning both games by a combined 37 points.
A Look Ahead
The Thunder stay out West as they head to Staples Center on Thursday night to face the Lakers. OKC was defeated by L.A. this past Sunday at home.