With the season on pause for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 Pandemic sweeping the nation, all this free time gives us time to pause and reflect on arguably the biggest overachievers in the league this season in our Thunder led by mixed bunch of savvy veterans and young up and comers. Coming into this season, the Thunder’s over/under in wins according was 31.5. They currently sit at 40-24 as the 5th seed in the West. This season has been filled with a bunch of memorable unlikely wins and comebacks that has surprised the NBA world, lets rank the best ten so far.
10. 100-97 win @Golden State on 11/25
This was one of the firsts of a series of unlikely wins for the Thunder. In just a little bit over three minutes, this game went from an ugly loss against an awful team to an impressive and unlikely win that showed early signs of the resilience this team will display throughout the season. The Curry-less Warriors led by 10 with 3:18 left and OKC called a timeout. After the timeout the Thunder finished the game on a 13-0 run with OKC’s PG trio scoring 12 of those points. Of course you have to take into consideration just how badly the under talented Warriors imploded during that stretch and how the Thunder shouldn’t have been in that position to begin with, but it was still an impressive and unlikely comeback nonetheless.
10) The 11/25 game against the Warriors that saw OKC make the improbable comeback against the Steph-less Warriors pic.twitter.com/O5UjASTw3v— Clemente Almanza (@CAlmanza1007) April 2, 2020
9. 111-103 win @Brooklyn on 1/7
Another clutch win for the Thunder where they outscored the Nets 10-2 in OT. This was a close game throughout as it saw 13 lead changes and 12 ties. People remember this game mostly for how clutch Chris Paul was in the fourth quarter and overtime, where he scored 20 of his 28 points all on jumpers with his hot shooting. Seems like OKC always has memorable games in Brooklyn.
9) The 1/7 game against the Nets that saw CP3 take over the 4th/OT with 20 points pic.twitter.com/FCYqM4qIrj— Clemente Almanza (@CAlmanza1007) April 2, 2020
8. 104-90 win @Utah on 12/9
This win is impressive in both the context of the game and the actual game. Coming into this day, the Thunder have won five of their last six games. OKC had a 10-12 record and people were questioning if this was just a hot streak or if this Thunder team was legit. Well winning in one of the toughest environments to play in Utah and straight up dominating a team many people though was in the upper echelon of Western Conference teams started making more fans believe the latter than the former. OKC had control of this game throughout but the scoreboard didn’t start reflecting that until the third quarter where they grew their lead to 85-68. OKC did a great job defensively against the Jazz and held them to a putrid 89.1 ORTG. Dennis Schroder led the way off the bench with 27 points.
8) The 12/9 against the Jazz that saw OKC dominate in one of the most hostile environments in the league against one of the better teams in the West pic.twitter.com/OCZzXxgK1h— Clemente Almanza (@CAlmanza1007) April 2, 2020
7. 126-122 win vs Grizzlies on 12/18
This was the second game of the infamous and improbable two game stretch that saw OKC win games where they trailed by over 20 points. The Grizzlies led 89-65 with seven minutes left in the third quarter and OKC finished the game on a 61-38 run in just 19 minutes of action. Schroder got hot and scored 22 of his 31 points that night during that stretch and kept killing the Grizzlies with his jumpers and drives to the basket.
7) The 12/18 game against the Grizzlies where OKC came back from a 24 point deficit pic.twitter.com/j97ZP7uxRm— Clemente Almanza (@CAlmanza1007) April 2, 2020
6. 98-97 win @Toronto on 12/29
Some consider this SGA’s breakout game as he went into a hostile environment against the defending NBA champs and put up 32 points with ease in his home country. Paul also played a big factor in this win as he scored 25 points. Both guards scored the final eight points for the Thunder to seal the deal. SGA made his signature bank shot as he slithered his way through the defense on Paul’s eighth assist.
6) The 12/29 game in Toronto where SGA's 32 pts helped OKC escape with a 1 point win pic.twitter.com/5UN5d4NWWA— Clemente Almanza (@CAlmanza1007) April 2, 2020
5. 109-106 win vs Bulls on 12/16
This was the first game of that two game streak I mentioned earlier. The Bulls lead by as much as 26 points in a game that looked to be a very bad loss against a bad and dysfunctional Bulls team at home. Zach LaVine took over this game and got whatever he wanted on route to score 39 points. The Thunder were down by 19 at half and their leader in CP3 had just two points. In the second half, he turned it up as he scored 28 points and helped the Thunder outscore the Bulls by 22 points in route to one of the biggest comeback in the NBA this season thus far. Like the Grizzlies game, OKC shouldn’t have been in this position to begin with against a bad Bulls team but alas, a win is a win.
5) The 12/16 game against the lowly Bulls where OKC completed a 26 pt deficit. Fun thing to note: Both this and the Grizzlies game mentioned earlier happened consecutively pic.twitter.com/dpQ21nfa5G— Clemente Almanza (@CAlmanza1007) April 2, 2020
4. 118-112 win vs Clippers on 12/22
The Clippers are a consensus championship contender that despite having their starters miss multiple games sit 2nd in the West right now. This game saw the return of Paul George to OKC after being traded this past summer. George was held to just 18 points on 17 shots. Many assume that the Clippers were done messing around as they expanded their lead to eight with eight minutes left, this could’ve been labeled a moral loss as the scrappy Thunder were able to hang in there throughout most of the game against an elite team. But instead OKC rallied back and won this game dominating the final eight minutes with 28 points scored in that short time span. The Thunder had three players with over 20 points this game in SGA, Schroder and Steven Adams.
4) The 12/22 game against a top heavyweight Clippers team in PG's return back to OKC pic.twitter.com/eKIvV9o948— Clemente Almanza (@CAlmanza1007) April 2, 2020
3. 105-104 win @Boston on 3/8
In the Thunder’s last game before the NBA season was suspended, they were able to have one last major comeback. Due to the Thunder’s historical struggles against the Celtics, many chalked this game up as a scheduled loss and this become even more of the case when the Thunder announced that SGA would miss his first game. This started to look like a scheduled loss when the Celtics led 11 at half and had all the momentum on their side. This was a very big momentum based game that saw both teams take turns of big runs throughout. The Thunder were able to steal this one as after countless of wasted opportunities given to them to hit the dagger when Schroder stole the ball from Kemba Walker and scored the transition go ahead layup in a one point win. Paul and Schroder picked up the scoring slack with SGA’s absence as they combined for 55 points. Paul was pretty emotional after the game about this win and if this is the last full game OKC plays this season then what a perfect game this would be.
3) The 3/8 game against the Celtics that saw huge runs by both teams. OKC was finally able to beat Boston in what feels like forever right before the season went to hiatus pic.twitter.com/cYDHouNdzN— Clemente Almanza (@CAlmanza1007) April 2, 2020
2. 139-127 win vs Timberwolves on 12/6
I mean, this had to be a top game right? This game was chaotic in a good way and had a little bit of everything. Untucked jerseys. Hail Mary passes. Missed FTs. Many remember this game for the infamous untucked technicial Jordan Bell received when CP3 pointed the rule violation out to the referees. But also don’t forget the stunning full court Hail Mary pass from Adams to Schroder to force the game into OT with just 1.1 seconds left. The Wolves were shell shocked and it showed in OT where OKC outscored them 17-5 to seal the win. The Thunder had five players with over 20 points in Paul, SGA, Schroder, Adams and Gallinari.
2) The 12/6 game against the Wolves known as the 'untucked jersey' game, but should also be remembered for this Hail Mary play pic.twitter.com/iitVGzIKV7— Clemente Almanza (@CAlmanza1007) April 2, 2020
1. Both Houston wins
I couldn’t decide between these two games so I went with both because why not? Both games were full of juicy narratives and underdog wins for OKC. The first win being a blowout win in Russell Westbrook’s first game back in OKC where nobody on the Rockets except Russ played well and the second game featured another improbably comeback as the Thunder scored 41 points in the fourth quarter that chipped away a 15 point deficit in Houston. Both games also featured CP3 taking revenge against his former team as he scored 18 points and 28 points respectively and really took control of the tempo in both games. With the season in pause, it’s funny to look at the standings and see the Thunder are one spot above the Rockets. One team was seen as a rebuild and the other team mortgaged their future to win now and the standings don’t reflect that. Just goes to show you how nobody really knows what’s going to happen in any season and the 2020 Thunder exemplify that.