Game 1 against the Houston Rockets was u-g-l-y.
And, no, the Oklahoma City Thunder did not have an alibi.
It seems that Luguentz Dort, who missed the first game of the playoff series against the Rockets due to a right knee sprain, was sorely missed by the Thunder.
Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, shall we?
Back in January, Dort got his first career start, and his assignment was to defend James Harden.
At that time, Harden was averaging 37 points per game, and Dort was tasked to stopping him. That’s a tall order, but Dort rose to the occasion and stopped Harden, who went 1-of-17 from 3-point range that night.
Tuesday night, however, was a completely different story. In Dort’s absence, Harden went off - scoring 37 points, 11 rebounds on 12-of-22 shooting, and went 6-of-13 from downtown.
Even without Harden out of the court, the Rockets did not let up - at one point in the second quarter outscoring the Thunder 18-7.
Rockets outscoring the Thunder 18-7 in the last five minutes WITHOUT James Harden on the floor.— Erik Horne (@ErikkHorne) August 18, 2020
So, how does OKC bounce back from this?
Adjustments will need to be made, clearly, after the Rockets’ all-in commitment to small ball, which seemed to have confused the Thunder in Game 1.
Even Chris Paul called it a “feel-out game.”
Chris Paul: "We've gotta feel it out. That's the first team all season we've even played like that. We knew it was sort of a feel out game."— Royce Young (@royceyoung) August 19, 2020
Hopefully, Oklahoma City will adjust to Houston’s zone defense in Game 2 on Thursday.