The Thunder were able to do what playoffs teams are supposed to do tonight. Take care of business against bad teams. OKC was in control throughout the entire game and it never felt like the Cavs were threatening to come back. OKC wasn’t able to blow the game out due to the Cavs outside shooting, going 14-30 from three, but were able to maintain a healthy distance on the scoreboard.
This was a collective group effort and everybody did their part in handling their business against an inferior team.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was the Thunder’s best player once again tonight. Scoring 20 points on an efficient 9-14 shooting, Gilgeous-Alexander was able to drive to the rim and attack the paint all game night, converting on his drives to the basket.
Terrance Ferguson had his best game in forever tonight. Ferguson, who has been struggling to score lately, scored 13 points on 5-10 shooting including 3-8 from three. Ferguson looked more comfortable out there and was looking for his shot, especially from three. This is Ferguson’s first game this season with 10+ shots. Ferguson scored 14 total points in his last eight games.
Dennis Schroder was fantastic tonight once again. Schroder finished with 22 points on 9-15 shooting in 31 minutes off the bench. Schroder finished with a team high +19 and was able to score in a variety of ways in both the paint and with his jumper.
Just from the three point range, Danilo Gallinari was great, shooting 5-11 from distance. But asides from that, Gallinari struggled to score within the three point line as he finished 6-21 for 19 points, including going a terrible 1-10 from two. This just goes to show you how valuable the three point shot is, you can have an inefficient night overall but still manage to put up points if you’re hitting your threes.
With this game in the bag for the most part, OKC didn’t need Chris Paul to put on his cape tonight. Paul only scored seven points on 3-9 shooting but was able to get his teammates involve, finishing with 10 assists. The four turnovers were some bad ones, as they resulted from untimely and sloppy passes from Paul, but besides that there really isn’t much else to complain about Paul’s game tonight.
Steven Adams had a 10 point and 16 rebound double double tonight, Adams scoring wasn’t needed tonight but he still had a great game by contributing in other ways. Adams had eight offensive rebounds, a crazy amount. For some perspective, the Cavs had nine total offensive rebounds this game. Adams passing was great tonight too, dishing out four assists. Adams passing has been his most improved skill set this season and has shown being capable of being an adequate passing big man, especially in the post. Adams even went 6-7 from the free throw line. Adams jammed his hand late in the fourth quarter and was grimacing for a bit but stayed in the game. Hopefully it’s nothing serious as he has been playing his best basketball this season lately.
Hamidou Diallo and Darius Bazley did a great job of providing energy off the bench tonight. Bazley finished with nine points and seven rebounds. Diallo had his best game since he returned from injury with 10 points that included some hustle dunks.
During the third quarter, Nerlens Noel suffered a nasty left ankle sprain that resulted him in staying down for a bit. He was able to gingerly walk back to the locker room himself. Hopefully it’s nothing serious as Noel has been a great backup big. Mike Muscala was put into action following the injury and went 2-4 from three in eight minutes.
The Cavs do have some nice pieces though. Collin Sexton scored 30 points on 12-22 shooting and Darius Garland scored 20 points on 6-13 shooting and had seven assists. The long term concern with their back court is how they are both ball dominate guards who don’t look to create for others. Sexton only averages 2.3 APG and Garland averages just 3.1 APG. Sexton averages just 34.3 passes per game while Garland averages just 39.7 passes per game. Sexton leads the team in USG% at 26.0 while Garland is fourth at 20.3. The concerns for the lack of passing is higher for Sexton than Garland. Sexton seems to get tunnel vision and looks to score whenever he touches the ball. Garland is the same case but isn’t nearly as bad as his counterpart. Can these two co-exist in the long term? Who knows but early results aren’t looking good unless they both become super efficient scorers like the Blazers have.
Cedi Osman had a pretty good game too, scoring 22 points on 7-13 shooting including going 5-9 from three. Osman is a dark horse candidate for teams looking to trade for shooting wings. Osman is just 24 years old and averaging 10.2 PPG and shooting 38.1% from three on 4.6 attempts a game. Osman also signed a team friendly extension of $31.1M over four years that doesn’t kick in until next season.
The biggest highlight from this game happened in the second quarter when Kevin Love showed his frustrations with Collin Sexton dribbling the ball out on a late possession. Love waved his arms around then walked towards to Sexton to catch his attention after he initially ignored him. It was reported by The Athletic before the game that Love wants out of Cleveland and has started to cause some dysfunction. The Cavs are 10-25 and Love is 31 years old, he doesn’t want to waste the rest of his prime on a rebuilding team. Love has been confrontational with his dissatisfaction by screaming at Cavs GM Koby Altman in front of the team. Anonymous Cavs players have also complained about new Head Coach John Beilein for creating a college atmosphere around the team.
It’s crazy how bad the Cavs have gotten as soon as LeBron James left, such a dysfunctional franchise should make Thunder fans appreciate even more how great the culture is here.