The Oklahoma City Thunder (44-28) did not finish out their final seeding game in the manner that they would have liked as they came up short in overtime to lose 107-103 to the Los Angeles Clippers (49-23). Both teams gave heavy minutes to their benches as key players got some rest ahead of the playoffs, and in spite of the loss, the Thunder looks to be ready to kick off Round 1 next week.
Schröder is BACK
After missing 6 games to be out of the bubble with his wife for the arrival of their second child, Dennis Schröder made his return against the Clippers. The Sixth Man of the Year candidate was greatly missed by his teammates, but he did not miss a beat as picked up right where he left off a couple of weeks ago.
In a little under 26 minutes, Schröder scored 17 points on 6-of-12 (50.0%) from the floor, 3-of-3 (100.0%) from three, and 2-of-2 (100.0%) from the free throw line. He added 4 assists, a rebound, and a steal to his stat line, and despite missing all that time over the last couple of weeks, he looks ready to go for the playoffs.
Thunder Player of the Game
In another “meaningless” game of sorts, yet another young guy stepped up to the plate and answered the call when he needed them. Hamidou Diallo recorded a career-high 27 points on 10-of-22 (45.5%) from the floor, including a career-high 4 made threes on 8 attempts (50.0%), and 5 rebounds, all in a career-high 40 minutes.
Of his 27 points, 18 of them came in the 4th quarter and overtime, which played a major role in forcing overtime to begin with. Diallo has slowly worked his way into meaningful minutes, and as a focal point of the offense in crunch time against the Clippers, he has shown that perhaps he’s worthy of seeing the court once the postseason begins.
Let’s Get This Party Started
The seeding games are all wrapped up, and the Thunder’s first round matchup for the playoffs is all set. OKC will kick off the first round against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday in a series that seemingly was destined to take place.
The Thunder and the Rockets are very familiar with each other, and after the Russell Westbrook for Chris Paul trade, it just makes sense that these two teams would meet in the postseason. Unfortunately for Houston, Westbrook will likely miss the beginning of the series due to a strained quad. As for the Thunder, Chris Paul and Luguentz Dort are both nursing injuries, and hopefully they will both be ready to go by Tuesday.
Tip-off for Game 1 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.