The Oklahoma City Thunder started off their 10th season with a 105-84 victory over the New York Knicks. Tonight was the first test into whether or not this new Thunder team was going to be successful. The “Big 3” had a lot to prove tonight, and they certainly didn’t disappoint.
Carmelo Anthony came into this game seeking revenge, and that’s exactly what he got. He started off the game with a 3 point shot, and never quit shooting after that. The team as a whole struggled to find a rhythm early, but the excellent defense kept them in the lead for a majority of the first quarter. Paul George was the biggest star of the first quarter, as he recorded 13 points as well as an outstanding display of perimeter defense.
The barrage of Thunder 3 point shots continued into the second quarter, yet they still weren’t falling. This team has to be careful not to attempt too many shots from beyond the arc, especially when they aren’t falling. Russell Westbrook was serving as the facilitator of the offense, as he should be. However, he needs to pull the trigger more often. Yes, he has more help around him this season, but he is still the best player on this Thunder Roster. The Thunder held a 53-42 lead at halftime.
Everything started coming together for the offense of Oklahoma City at the start of the third quarter. It seemed like Carmelo Anthony was forcing too many shots in the first half in order to get at his former team. Once he settled down after halftime, we saw a much more efficient Melo. Russell Westbrook continued to be the best player on the court as he recorded several tough shots under the basket as well a ton of assists by getting other players involved.
The Thunder acquired a large lead by the time the fourth quarter started, but they didn’t let off the gas pedal. Russell Westbrook continued to find wide open shots for his teammates, and they were knocking them down. Defense was a priority for this Thunder team, and it was led by Steven Adams and Paul George. George held down the perimeter while Adams was a solid rim protector inside. The Thunder ultimately routed the Knicks which allowed the Thunder’s Big 3 to get some rest before the game ended.
3 Quick Thoughts
- The Big 3 is the Real Deal: If there were any questions as to whether or not these three guys can play together, they were answered tonight. The Big 3 combined for 71 points on 24-55 shooting from the field. What’s scary is these guys didn’t even shoot to their potential tonight. Russell Westbrook was the most effecient of the three, and that’s because he didn’t have to force shots. Westbrook is able to take the shots that he wants when he has other threats around him.
- Steven Adams Played a Great Game: Steven Adams had a monster game tonight shooting 5/5 from the field for 12 points and recording 5 rebounds. This is exactly the type of game the Thunder needs from their big man. Adams doesn’t need to take a whole lot of shots, he just needs to make the ones he takes. Adams had a monster put back dunk as well as a back door lob from Russell Westbrook. Adams was an animal on the defensive end with 3 blocks and 5 steals. The Big Kiwi could be a key part of this season.
- The Defense Looked Phenomenal: The Thunder were amazing on the defensive end tonight. Billy Donovan tried to make an emphasis on defense a year ago, but had no real defenders outside of Steven Adams and Andre Roberson. Now that Paul George is in OKC, the story has changed. The Thunder were able to cause so many problems for the Knicks offense that they could never really get into any sort of a rhythm. Adding this kind of defense to the scary offense of Oklahoma City will make them extremely hard to beat.
First Road Test on Saturday
The Thunder will play their first road game of the season on Saturday against the Utah Jazz. The game will take place at 8:00 PM CST and will be televised on FSOK. The game will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM. As usual, the Thunder Guys will have you covered on everything you need for the game.
Article written by Craig Hofeld. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.