With a 7-game winning streak on the line, the Oklahoma City Thunder dropped a tough one in Boston to the Celtics 134-129. Despite 6 Thunder players finishing in double figures, the Celtics shot a ridiculous 59.3% from the floor, and OKC could not get the job done.
The Thunder got off to a rough start as Paul George, Russell Westbrook, and Steven Adams all struggled to hit shots early. The trio started off the game a combined 6-18 (33.3%), but Terrance Ferguson and Dennis Schröder were both able to contribute early. The defense struggled at times, which allowed the Celtics to hit some shots, but the Thunder was able to finish the quarter strong barely trailing Boston 31-29.
The second quarter was a back-and-forth affair as Paul George stayed hot, but the Celtics were also able to hit shots throughout. The game stayed close for most of the period, but in the final 4 minutes of the first half, the Celtics outscored the Thunder 15-7 to take a 66-58 lead into halftime.
The first few possessions of the second half looked too much like the end of the second quarter as Boston continued to score at will. The Thunder picked things up, though, and a quick 11-0 run with 7:53 left in the quarter put OKC up 76-73, their largest lead of the day.
The Celtics answered the Thunder’s run with one of their own as they outscored OKC 17-2 over the next 4 minutes to take a 12-point lead over OKC, Boston’s largest of the day. The Thunder was able to stop the bleeding somewhat and get some stops to end the quarter, but at the end of the third, OKC trailed 99-93.
The Thunder had a number of chances to put themselves in position to win the game, but they simply did not play well. This proved to be true late in the game as the Celtics kept hitting shots, and the Thunder just could not get back on top. OKC cut the deficit to a single possession on a number of times, but Boston held on, and the Thunder lost 134-129.
Thunder Player of the Game
Paul George’s MVP campaign is in full swing as he continues to put up impressive numbers. Today was no different as he put up 37 points while shooting 11-27 (40.7%) from the floor, including 5-16 (31.3%) from three. He did not shoot as well as he has lately, and bad days are bound to happen, but he did add in 4 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal, and a block. Paul George has been the Thunder’s best overall player this season, and as long as he and Russell Westbrook continue to play well off of each other, then this team has a chance to go deep in the playoffs.
3 Quick Thoughts
- Hot 3-Point Shooting Continues: If one thing is for certain, it’s that the Thunder has shot at a ridiculous rate from beyond the perimeter over the last month. OKC shot over 40.0% from 3 today, the sixth consecutive game where the Thunder had at least 40% from 3. While the three-point shooting is a quality development for the Thunder offense, they need to continue to attack the basket and let the offense work from the inside out. They missed far too many shots in the paint today, which made it that much more difficult to have a chance in the game.
- Defense Has to Be Better: When your offense scores 129 points on the road, you expect them to win. That cannot happen when you have one of the best defenses in the NBA and still give up 134 points. The Thunder struggles against teams with faster, more athletic bigs, and Steven Adam was exposed on a number of possessions today. Add in to the mix that Dennis Schröder simply cannot defend the likes of Kyrie Irving, and the Celtics were able to score with ease.
- Don’t Overreact: Losing sucks, but don’t let today’s poor play distract you from the fact that the Thunder is playing really well lately. The offense is rolling, and the defense isn’t quite as solid as it was early in the season, but they’re still playing well enough to beat just about anybody in the league. If the Thunder had played this way a season ago, they would have lost by 20, but they continue to maintain composure, even when trailing on the road, and that is something they can continue to build on moving forward.
The Thunder is headed back to Oklahoma City where they will host the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night. The Thunder recently defeated the Magic 126-117 in Orlando last Tuesday, and they should be able to take care of business again, this time at home. Tip-off is set for 7 PM CT, and it will be televised on FSOK and broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.
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