Thunder Drops Close One in Oakland on Opening Night

Game #1 - Golden State Warriors - Recap Stats.png

The Oklahoma City Thunder opened up the 2018-19 regular season without Russell Westbrook, but they were able to play a close one against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland. The back-to-back NBA Champions proved to be too much, however, and they were able to hold on and defeat the Thunder 108-100.

Rapid Recap

Thunder got off to an awful start on the offensive side of the ball, shooting just 6-23 (26.1%) from the floor in the first quarter. A number of players were able to get involved on offense and find some points, but nobody could hit shots with any consistency. The defense looked decent at times, though, and after the first period, Oklahoma City was only down by eight.

The second quarter was a little bit better on the offensive end, but not by much. Defensively, Oklahoma City was able to slow down Golden State to an extent, but at the half, the Warriors led by double digits at the half.

The third quarter looked like a brand new game for the Thunder as a team, but specifically for Paul George. George shot 1-8 in the first half, but he came out hot in the third shooting 6-10.

George’s hot hand was just what the Thunder needed to get back into the game, and in the first four minutes of the period, Oklahoma City took a 67-66 lead. The advantage did not last, however, as Golden State was able to get back on to the high side, but with just one-quarter remaining, the Thunder narrowly trailed the Warriors 83-79.

After surviving what proved to be the dooming quarter for the Thunder a season ago, Oklahoma City looked like they might have a chance to actually win this game. The Thunder kept the point-differential to within six, and they even cut it two with just under two minutes to go, but the shots stopped falling, and the Warriors were able to pull away at the end to win 108-100.

Box Score

Thunder Player of the Game

Paul George had about as awful a start as you could expect from an NBA All-Star. With Russell Westbrook out still recovering with a knee injury, the Thunder desperately needed Paul George to take over in order to have a chance to knock off the Warriors. His first half was awful, but his second half was incredible. George finished the game with 27 points on 9-23 (39.1%) shooting, including 4-12 (33.3%) from three, as well as five assists, four steals, and two rebounds.

3 Quick Thoughts

  • The Offense Needs Russ: Russell Westbrook is not going to reinsert himself into this offense and make shots start falling all of a sudden. Still, he does things on the offensive end that no other player on this team can possibly do, and that opens up so many other possibilities on the court. The sooner Westbrook gets back, the better things will go for the Thunder, because he makes things possible for other players.
  • The Defense Appears to be Good: Even with the absence of Andre Roberson for a minimum of another two months, the Thunder defense looks like they are going to be able to stop really good offenses. The Warriors have been regarded as the top offense in the NBA for quite some time now, and while they undoubtedly missed some shots tonight due to it being the first game of the season, the Thunder still did a pretty good job at disrupting their flow at times. Oklahoma City racked up 11 steals and six blocks, both above their season averages from a year ago. Not much can be taken from a single game, but time will tell if this defense is as good as it looked at times tonight.
  • Rotations Need Some Work: Several times tonight it looked like Billy Donovan had the wrong personnel on the floor. While it is hard to pick and choose and figure out who is going to be the most effective, especially when a couple of your top players are out due to injury, it can be frustrating if the choices don’t work out. Terrance Fergus looked lost at times, Patrick Patterson was generally ineffective, and some guys that perhaps deserved some playing time did not even see the floor tonight. While it can be guaranteed that Billy Donovan will make adjustments as the season goes on, I’m not sure he has what it takes to make the tough calls. He’s going to have to step up and make good decisions concerning who is playing where and for how long, or else it won’t matter who is on the court because the Thunder will struggle regardless.

Headed to Hollywood

The Thunder now travels to Los Angeles where they will take on the Clippers on Friday, October 19th. The Clippers open up their season against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday at home, so they will have already played at home, while this will be the second road game of the season for Oklahoma City. Tip-off is set for 9:30 PM, and the game will be televised on FSOK and NBA TV. The game will also be broadcast on the radio on WWLS 98.1 FM.

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