The Oklahoma City Thunder played their first of three scrimmages as they took on the Boston Celtics on Friday afternoon. The Thunder started off strong, and after leading for most of the game, they were able to come away with a 98-84 victory over the Celtics.
These warmup games should be taken with a grain of salt, but Thunder fans have plenty to be excited about as the season restart is just a week away. A few things in particular stood out in this one, though.
Steven Adams Looks Healthy
The Big Kiwi went to work immediately as he poured in 10 of the Thunder’s first 15 points on 5-of-7 (71.4%) from the field. Steven Adams spent most of the last 4 months back home in New Zealand, and it looks like the rest has done him a lot of good.
As a big man who has been voted the league’s toughest player a number of times, Adams has found himself faltering towards the end of past seasons due to exhaustion and injury. With the pause in the season, and now the restart, he looks about as mobile and energetic as he’s ever been.
After resting for the entire second half, Adams finished the game with 17 points on 8-of-11 (72.7%) from the floor while grabbing 7 rebounds (4 offensive, 3 defensive). If he’s able to keep this up, OKC’s offense could be at another level headed into the playoffs.
Despite the fact that the Thunder had not played competitive basketball in 4 months, they did a solid job at taking care of the ball. There was a 2-minute stretch in the second quarter where OKC turned the ball over 3 times, but besides that stretch, there weren’t a lot of issues.
It takes a few games to get timing down, even with the most experienced groups, but OKC’s chemistry looked good early. Steven Adams was an active roller on offense, working in tandem with Chris Paul and even Danilo Gallinari at times.
Starters sat for the majority of the second half, but the backups did a decent job at taking care of the ball at times. As a team, the Thunder finished with 18 turnovers, a few above their season average of 13.5 per game, but all things considered, OKC looked like a polished team headed into the 8-game restart.
Dre is Back!
It took 909 days of rehab and recovery, but Andre Roberson finally made his comeback as he took the floor in the second half of the scrimmage. On January 27, 2017, Roberson ruptured the patellar tendon in his left knee, and despite a number of attempts at a comeback, he has been unable to play for nearly 3 years.
His expected return has been the talk of the town in the Thunder’s media availability at the bubble after it was made known that he was a full go in practice and was playing 5-on-5 basketball for the first time since his injury. His return is one that Thunder have eagerly anticipated, and now that he’s back, how much is he going to play?
When Roberson went down with the injury, he was a 4-year starter for the Thunder. Not everyone liked this decision, as his lack of offensive capabilities have been a detriment to the team at times. Still, his abilities on defense were unquestionable, and now that he’s back, it will be interesting to see where he fits into the rotation.
In his return, Roberson scored 5 points—including a corner 3—to go along with 2 rebounds, a steal, and a block.
Above all, it’s great to see Dre back on the court doing what he loves to do. His absence was a tough one, and he has all the support in the world, particularly from his teammates.
Sunday Afternoon Scrimmage
The Thunder’s second scrimmage is on Sunday against the Philadelphia 76ers and tips off at 11 AM CT. That game will also be available via the Thunder mobile app as well at okcthunder.com.