In easily the worst win in franchise history, the Oklahoma City Thunder defeat the Los Angeles Clippers 117-112.
This win ties the Thunder with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the fourth-best lottery odds. A loss would’ve tied them for the third-best lottery odds with the Orlando Magic. Instead of having a 52.1% chance of a Top 4 pick, they own a 45.2% chance.
The Thunder finishes tied for fourth in the lottery standings.— Joe Mussatto (@joe_mussatto) May 17, 2021
OKC has a 45% chance to land a top-four pick. And there’s a 48% chance Houston’s pick falls to OKC at No. 5. pic.twitter.com/un9rPS1LCk
When the lottery system is such a luck-of-the-draw game, every ping pong ball matters.
The Clippers also had an incentive to lose this game.
With a loss, the Clippers are now the fourth seed in the West, which means that the earliest they could play the Los Angeles Lakers in the WCF if they gain the seventh seed (which they most likely will be at the Golden State Warriors in the Play-In Tournament).
It was pretty clear as day that the Clippers knew this heading into tonight. The team sat their star duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George and played most of the game with their bench.
This resulted in some of the worst basketball ever seen on a professional level; not just in terms of talent, but also effort as it seemed like the Clippers were homing it in all game long, settling for bad shot after bad shot and rarely defending, giving up 78 points in the paint.
It can not be overstated just how crucially bad this win is. OKC lost 7% lottery odds.
If the Thunder doesn’t land a top-five pick, then another season of tanking will be a guarantee. Overall, this win kind of makes the entire season feel meaningless, especially in the last stretch where they 2-23 in the last 25 games.
One win against the Clippers’ B Team managed to put all of that impressive losing effort into waste.
Aleksej Pokusevski, Josh Hall, and Moses Brown had some of their best games this season in terms of the actual game. This is ironic since all three have struggled immensely at various points of the season. All three having career nights during the same game is quite unlucky for the Thunder.
Pokusevski scored a career-high 29 points, including going 6-of-9 from three and made the dagger late in the game. Hall had a 25 point and 10 rebounds double-double. Brown finished with 24 points, 18 rebounds, and seven blocks.
It is important to note that fans should not focus their frustration on the players' winy are professional basketball players. Many of them are fighting for their NBA careers; it would be ludicrous to be upset that they played with effort and tried to win.
These are just unfortunate circumstances that the Thunder found themselves in. Hopefully, they get some lottery luck on June 22.
Thunder fans are understandably disappointed after the win. But since the odds changed in 2019, teams that landed a top-2 pick had the 7th, 8th, 3rd & 1st best odds. OKC is still in a good spot. Maybe the basketball gods will reward you & this Poku game will be remembered fondly.— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) May 17, 2021
I expect SVP’s One Big Thing tonight to be about the Clippers' lack of effort to win this game.