The Oklahoma City Thunder (44-27) did the near impossible as they came back from a 22-point deficit in the second half for a 116-115 victory over the Miami Heat (44-28).
Incredible comebacks have become a bit of a trend for the Thunder this season, but what was unique about this one was the group of players that led the way. Starters sat for the entire fourth quarter, so it was up to the youthful Thunder bench to finish out strong, and that is exactly what they did.
Too Many Early Fouls
The Thunder sent Miami to the free throw line way too many times early on in this game, especially when closing out on three point shooters. At one point, OKC allowed Duncan Robinson to record back-to-back four point plays. They then followed this up with an “and one” from Jimmy Butler. This sequence of 11 points played a key role in the early deficit OKC had to face.
The Thunder managed to clean things up in the second half, which was a major part in the comeback victory. That being said, this squad needs to improve drastically on closing out on shooters. With a likely first round matchup against the Rockets ahead, this type of play isn’t going to work. If Duncan Robinson can tear OKC up on the perimeter, imagine what James Harden will do.
Is OKC One of the Deepest Teams?
The Thunder’s bench has played a key role in the teams success all season. Even with Dennis Schröder away from the team, the second unit continues to impress.
The Thunder recorded 62 points off of the bench, including 14 out of the 16 made 3-point attempts in the game for OKC. It’s always a crazy night when the bench accounts for more than half of the teams total points.
Led by Darius Bazley, who has scored 20+ points in three straight games, the second unit is fully responsible for this win over Miami. With these types of big performances off the bench, and from so many different guys, it’s hard not to argue that OKC has one of the deepest rosters in the league.
Thunder Player of the Game
It may be getting old for some people, but it’s certainly not for me: tonight’s Thunder Player of the Game is (yet again) rookie Darius Bazley.
The 20-year-old scored 20+ points for his third consecutive game, and he played a major role in OKC’s fourth quarter comeback. Bazley finished the game with 21 points on 8-of-14 (57.1%) from the floor, including 5-of-8 (62.5%) from downtown. He also tallied 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block, all while turning it over just a single time.
The Thunder rookie continues to impress with the progress he’s made since March, and now that he’s finally getting some national attention, it’s time to start asking the question: is Darius Bazley the real deal?
One More Seeding Game
The Playoffs are almost here, and OKC has just one final seeding game remaining. On Friday, the Thunder takes on the Los Angeles Clippers in a game that will be the final decider on the Western Conference playoff seedings.
For the Thunder, it probably doesn’t matter whether or not they win the game because they are matched up with the Houston Rockets in the first round no matter what. Still, it’s good to finish the regular season on a strong note and head into the playoffs with some momentum.
Tip-off for the game on Friday is set for 5:30 PM CT, and it will be televised on ESPN and Fox Sports Oklahoma. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.