Oklahoma City was able to stay in control throughout the game and win comfortably 121-103.
Here are ten thoughts from the win:
- Sometimes the box score numbers don’t justify just how good a player was in a game, which was the case today with Chris Paul. Paul finished with only 13 points and nine assists but was in complete control of the game’s tempo and generated good looks for both himself and his teammates. Paul didn’t force anything and let the game come to him naturally. He played a more passive role in this game as he only took nine shots. Chris finished with a team-high +/- of +26.
- After arguably his worst game in a Thunder uniform, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander looked a lot better. Shai scored 18 points by attacking the basket and getting to the rim, his outside shot was still a bit off this game but overall a good scoring game for him. Shai’s drive and kick game were also on point as he finished with seven assists but created good looks on most of his passes by slicing and dicing the Wizards’ weak defense.
- Danilo Gallinari had an efficient scoring game as he finished with 20 points on 6-8 shooting. Gallinari’s outside shot was excellent as he went 3-5 from three. Danilo was aggressive early on and set the tone by attacking Washington and looking to score when he touched it.
- The best player off the bench for OKC was quickly Darius Bazley as he finished with a career-high 23 points and seven rebounds. Bazley had a great outside shooting game as he went 5-8 from three. During the first half, we saw some Bazely at the five lineups, and they held up surprisingly well as the Thunder were able to use their speed and length to their advantage on the defensive end by being switch happy. The Wizards were never able to take advantage of their size in those minutes, and the Thunder could grow their lead because of that. Bazley at the five was something Billy Donovan mentioned as a possibility for these seeding games, which was the case in today’s game. If the Thunder were able to run this experiment, it would be in this game where the margin for error was huge. I’m not sure how sustainable success will be against better teams, though.
- The Thunder were without Steven Adams and Nerlens Noel this game, so they had to rely on Mike Muscala to start at the five this game, and he did great in his role. Muscala finished with 14 points and provided spacing that Adams and Noels could not by going from the outside. It was surprising to see the Wizards not look for this match up with Thomas Bryant as he has been one of Washington’s best bubble players, but Bryant had a quiet afternoon with just nine points.
- The other rotation players did an excellent job this game as well. Hamidou Diallo scored 13 points, Abdel Nader scored just six points but was active on both ends, and Terrance Ferguson was given some meaningful minutes in this game. I thought he did an excellent job of taking advantage of the opportunity, defending well, and using his athleticism and speed to guard the perimeter. On offense, Ferguson was more aggressive than usual as he took six shots and scored three points. I would rather see Terrance go 1-6 than 0-1 from the field. Take the shots and make teams stay true to you.
- After being the only starter to play well against Memphis, Lu Dort continued to impress in the bubble as he finished with nine points and 10 rebounds. Dort was his usual self on defense by being physical and active and just straight up hustling all game long.
- The Thunder did a decent job at managing their guys’ minutes as only Paul and Shai played over 30 minutes. This is more noteworthy this game than in the other bubble games as Oklahoma City will have another game to play tomorrow afternoon against the red hot and undefeated Suns.
- Overall, the Thunder did what they were supposed to do this game against the worst remaining team left. They handled their business early on and used this game to get some of their swagger back on offense without playing their starters heavy minutes. Andre Roberson did not play this game, so it is safe to assume that this was his best game as the team slowly works Roberson back into game shape.
- Not known as an outside shooting team, the Thunder were impressive from the outside, going 18-39 from three. This is the Thunder’s third win in the bubble where they lead the entire time and won convincingly.