Last night, the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers and earned their sixth consecutive win, 95-86.
Without Russell Westbrook and against what’s probably the worst team in the league, the Thunder struggled to find a way to score. Despite generating good offense for the most part of the game, Oklahoma City wasn’t able to convert it in points.
However, thanks to another great defensive performance, the Thunder held the Cavaliers to eighty-six points.
The first part of the game has been very ugly. Oklahoma City seemed to be always in control, but due to a lot of missing shots, Cleveland was able to stay close. The first sight of real Thunder basketball was at the end of the second quarter when Oklahoma City capitalized a 9-0 run to end the first half.
The Thunder came out from the locker room still pushing on the gas pedal and increased their lead to sixteen points (17-0 run). When it felt like Oklahoma City was be able to put the game away, the offense became stagnant again. The Cavs took advantage of it, and bounce back into the game. During the fourth quarter, with a little more of six minutes left to play in the game, the Cavs were able to take the lead, 82-80. The Thunder didn’t panic, but instead, they stuck together. The Cavs will go ahead and score only four points in the last six minutes of the game, while on the other end Oklahoma City will score fifteen.
- Dennis Schröder
In the past couple of years, when Russell Westbrook was sitting on the bench to take some rest, or he was out for the whole game, the Thunder never had a solid back up point guard. Now they do, and it might be the best back up point guard they had in a very long long time. Dennis Schröder is the perfect sixth man for this team. Last night it was another proof: he controlled the game perfectly, attacked the rim, looked for the best shots, and despite finishing with zero assists, he tried to find his teammates. Schröder will finish the game with twenty-eight points (11-19 FG, 0-3 3PT, 6-8 FT), seven rebounds, one steal, one block.
- Defensive impact
Once again this year, the defense is the main reason the Thunder won a game. Ok, the Cavs are bad, but despite a couple of blackouts, Oklahoma City defense was perfect last night. The Thunder finished the game with thirteen steals, nine blocks, and forced Cleveland to turn the ball over twenty times. The Thunder scored twenty-one points out of these turnovers. Not bad.
- More Adams
Steven Adams finished the game with nine points, thirteen rebounds, two assists, two steals, and two blocks. The Thunder didn’t look for him enough on offense. Adams took only six shots (he made three), and I think this is not enough. With the offense struggling, Oklahoma City should have run more offense through the big Kiwi. Nobody on this Cavs team, we can also say nobody on many teams, can stop Adams in the post, so instead of setting up for jumpers which are not falling, Steven should get more shots around the rim.
- Bench, ups & downs
Last night, the second unit had definitely some ups and dows. Alex Abrines didn’t have a great shooting night (3-12 FG, 3-10 3PT) and so it goes for Patrick Patterson (1-5 FG, 1-3 3PT, 0-2 FT). When these two players struggle to score, the team is really impacted by it. Another “down point” is the happy-shooting Raymond Felton, who instead of moving the ball and run some offense, took some questionable shots. Definitely a plus is Diallo with his eight points, three rebounds, and one steal. Noel finished with a weird stat line: zero points, zero rebounds but one assist, two steals, and four blocks.
- The importance of Russell Westbrook
After watching the third game of the season without Westbrook, it’s very clear how big of an impact he has on the team. However, Westbrook’s impact isn’t only on the court, but also outside. For this reason, he was with the team yesterday in Cleveland, and everyone is spending important words on him, his leadership, and how good of a teammate he is. The sprained ankle doesn’t seem to be as bad as it looked, but Russell will still miss probably a few games.
The Thunder will play tonight at home against the Houston Rockets. Tip-off 7 pm CT