Oklahoma City came into tonight’s game off dominant back-to-back road wins, and it didn’t take long for them to pick up right where they left off. In a game that was anticipated as a battle of defenses, both teams started off slow. Four minutes into the game, the score was tied at six apiece, and neither offense looked like it could get anything going. Over the next six minutes, the Thunder would go on 22-7 run as the defense was flying around making plays, and pretty much everybody got involved on offense. Oklahoma City would finish off the quarter with a 31-18 lead.
The Thunder kept the pressure on to start the second quarter, and while the Celtics played marginally better, Oklahoma City was able to open up the lead a little bit. By halftime, it was the defense that impressed as Oklahoma City closed out the second quarter with some monster blocks, giving the Thunder a 55-37 halftime lead.
The third quarter was a different story as Boston made just the right adjustments, and Oklahoma City could not get anything to go their way. The Thunder shot a forgettable 6-22 (27.3%) in the period, and Kyrie Irving finally started hitting shots. Boston roared back to outscore Oklahoma City by 14 points, and the Thunder entered the final quarter with a small 71-67 lead.
The final period was do or die for Oklahoma City as Boston stayed hot throughout. The Thunder maintained the lead for the first six minutes of the quarter, but the Celtics tied it up at 79 apiece with 5:56 to go, and then they took the lead on the next possession to go up 79-82 with 4:52 left in the game. Boston would maintain control, going up by as much as seven in the final minutes of the matchup, but Oklahoma City would cut the deficit to one with 1:33 to go. Al Horford made back-to-back shots to put the Celtics up by six with 41.1 seconds to go, and the Thunder could do nothing to retake control. In the end, Oklahoma City dropped the contest to Boston 94-101.
3 Quick Thoughts
- Consistency is Key: The Thunder played perhaps their most impressive half of the season in the first 24 minutes of tonight’s game. The defense was everywhere causing chaos, the offense was clicking, and Oklahoma City looked like the best team in the NBA. The second half was essentially the exact opposite. While it is a lot to ask to expect a team to play at a high level for all 48 minutes, this squad is going to have to figure out how to maintain a consistent rhythm if they want to be successful in the longterm.
- Too Many Threes: Oklahoma City’s shooting from deep is drastically improved from last season, but that’s not saying a whole lot. The Thunder are a threat from beyond the arc, but the quality of shot selection has to see improvement. Too many of Oklahoma City’s three-point attempts tonight were simply not good looks. As long as the Thunder can continue to make threes at a high percentage, they should shoot them, but at the same time, if the quality of the shot selection can improve (it can), then it should.
- No Need to Panic: A lot of fans and even well-intentioned critics want to hit the panic button and start looking for issues. While the Thunder played far from a perfect game tonight, there were plenty of positives. By the same token, Oklahoma City has a number of issues to resolve and areas they can work on. The NBA season is only two weeks old, and the Thunder has only played eight games. As has been stated throughout the season, chemistry takes time. Blowing an 18-point halftime lead is bad, but it’s definitely not the worst case scenario.
On the Road Again
After a single game at home, Oklahoma City heads back out on the road for a three-game road trip, starting with a matchup against the Trail Blazers in Portland on Sunday. Tip-off is at 8 PM CT and will be televised on FSOK. The game will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM the Sports Animal.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.