The Oklahoma City Thunder moved to 2-0 on the season after cruising to a 110-84 win at home against the New Zealand Breakers. The Thunder never trailed the Breakers, and despite the score staying close through the first 6 minutes, OKC ran off a 22-2 run to go up big and never look back.
Party in the Paint
The Thunder racked up a ridiculous 72 points in the paint tonight. For reference, they did that only twice all of last season.
I get it. “It’s the preseason. This wasn’t even against an NBA team. Don’t get too excited.” But the athleticism of the players on this team is eye-popping across the board.
Hamidou Diallo, Shai Gilgeous Alexander, Darius Bazley, and Deonte Burton all had impressive takes to the basket. Chris Paul and Dennis Schröder continue to be able to do their thing at the rim. Even Steven Adams put on a show with some acrobatic moves.
For so long, the Thunder has been able to score in the paint with a downhill, bully ball style of play. Now, it looks like OKC will be able to get points down low with a mixture of that physical basketball along with a level of athleticism that draws “oohs” and “ahhs” from the crowd.
After a lackluster defensive performance on Tuesday, the Thunder needed to come out and lock down on defense, and that’s exactly what they did. The Breakers are not an NBA-level offensive powerhouse, but OKC’s effort on that end was impressive nonetheless.
Last season, the Thunder led the NBA in steals with 9.3 per game. After grabbing only 4 steals and forcing 12 turnovers on Tuesday against the Mavs, they went out and took the ball away 13 times while forcing 19 turnovers tonight.
Scoring is fun, but defense is key to longterm success, and the Thunder is going to need a certain level of intensity on that end of the floor to balance the game whenever shots aren’t falling.
3-Point Shooting No Cause for Concern
After shooting 14-for-28 (50.0%) from deep on Tuesday, the Thunder managed to make just 7-for-30 (23.3%) tonight. Even after the poor night from three, OKC still put together a solid shooting night from by making 45-of-89 (50.6%) overall from the floor. That means they shot 38-for-59 (64.4%) from two.
If you take a look at the shot selection, it really wasn’t anything of concern. Simply put, shots just didn’t fall. The Thunder managed to balance out the missed three-point shots by grabbing 11 offensive rebounds and scoring 17 second-chance points. 72 points in the paint doesn’t hurt, either.
I anticipate that the Thunder will be significantly better shooting the ball from deep as the season gets going, so one off night isn’t anything to be too concerned about, especially when you consider that the team’s likely best shooter, Danilo Gallinari, was out (rest) tonight.
Headed to Dallas
The Thunder will get a few days of rest before taking on the Mavericks for the second time this preseason, this time in Dallas on Monday night. Hopefully the Mavs will play Luka Dončić and Kristaps Porzingis this time around so the Thunder will get to play against some tougher opposition. The game on Monday has a 7:30 PM scheduled tip-off and will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.
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