Watching Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook play together is something that surely no one in Oklahoma City anticipated experiencing, other than in the Olympics.
It’s reality now and after Wednesday night’s game, everyone witnessed first-hand how lethal they make this team offensively. Even when Paul George is having a sub-par performance like he did tonight.
Westbrook tallied his second triple-double of this premature season with 28 points, 16 assists, and 10 rebounds. Anthony tallied his first double-double as a member of the Thunder with 28 points and 10 rebounds. The two combined for 19-of-35 shooting and 56 points.
The anticipation of this matchup was for Paul George to face his former team for the first time and for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis to play inside the Chesapeake Energy Arena for the first time since the trade this summer. The narrative couldn’t have been any more unorthodox. George had one of the worst games of his career due to foul trouble. He only scored 10 points on eight shots. Weirdly enough, Oladipo finished with a game-high 35 points and Sabonis, a player that has had an excellent start to his sophomore NBA season, only scored four points on 1-of-9 shooting.
What stuck out was that George, a perennial all-star in the NBA, had such a poor game but still had two other superstars to overshadow it. Typically, when a player of George’s caliber plays like he did, that’s an automatic loss. That speaks volumes to how good OKC can be this season and surely will present a problem to the NBA that only the Golden State Warriors present.
An early prediction on TheSuaveReport.com stated that this team will have great success if their big three combines for 65 points or more per game. Even with George’s lackluster performance, they combined for 66 and the team cruised to victory.
Once everyone on this Thunder team finds their exact niche, mostly referring to Anthony, Westbrook, and George, it will be a monumental order for any team to defeat them four times in a playoff series.
What makes OKC even more of a threat is the offensive emergence of Steven Adams, a player that’s not offensive-minded in the slightest. With there being far more firepower on the perimeter than any other Thunder team since Adams was drafted, there’s more space in the paint. Meaning, he has ample opportunity to thrive all season with most focus going to the three superstars surrounding him.
That came to fruition against the Pacers where Adams went 8-of-13 from the field for 17 points and 11 rebounds, seven of which were offensive and oftentimes resulted in second-chance points for either himself, Westbrook or Anthony.
Assuming that George won’t be hit by the curse of over-zealous referees that call an unnecessary amount of fouls very often, he’ll be a recipient of the same luxuries his counterparts received on Wednesday night.
What a learning experience this is for everyone on the Thunder roster from Kyle Singler to Westbrook. This season is uncharted territory for everyone but as soon as they learn their roles, young players get comfortable in the system and Billy Donovan completes his early season experiments, there’s only one team in the NBA that will be able to keep up with Oklahoma City in a seven-game series. The Golden State Warriors would be that one team, but even then, the Thunder’s experience mixed with talent and post-presence may overtake even the defending champions this year.