Last night the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Minnesota Timberwolves by a score of 117-104. Now sitting at 23-17 this was a perfect bounce-back game after a somewhat embarrassing throttling from my Lakers on Saturday. The star of the night was Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (no surprise here). A big surprise, however, was Mike Muscala…more about that later. Here are the facts:
- Mike Muscala…can produce?
In 19 minutes of action, Muscala posted 11 points, 3 boards, and 3 assists, shooting 40%. Ending the night (+)5 overall. As a 6’10” post player, 19-22 minutes with legitimate production is what OKC needs from their backup big. This takes the pressure off Steven Adams to be the only option for post scoring. Even with only three rebounds, this was a solid showing from the 6th year big man.
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is for real…like really for real.
The 2nd year guard out of Kentucky posted a 20 point, 20 rebounds & 20 assist triple-double. Being the second guard since Russell Westbrook to post a 20 rebound triple-double in some years. Shooting right around 67%, this has been one of the best showings of the year for the young guard and this should show how bright of a career this young man will have.
- This is a starting five that can rival just about anyone in the league right now.
As far as first units go, the Thunder’s is one of the most talented and underrated in the league. It’s a situation where you know that these guys could start on almost any other team they’d go to, but the way they fit here is sensational. With 87 points scored between them, this goes to show how balanced the first unit is. Not only are they balanced, but they can also play with anyone. Except for my Lakers…sorry guys.
- Can we stop saying Billy Donovan is a bad coach?
SGA said that Coach Donovan, “challenged me before the game because he knows what I’m capable of.” And then 48 minutes of gameplay later, we witnessed his first career triple-double. Not only that, the rotations are becoming more consistent and seem like chess moves instead of someone trying to figure out what to do with NBA players. Finally…look at the record of a team who wasn’t even expected to be in the playoff picture. Talk about job security.
- Spots 5 and 6 could be wide open for the Thunder.
The Thunder are 1 & ½ games out of sixth place and within 4 games of fifth. It’s possible (not 100% guaranteed but definitely possible) that OKC can pull out 1-2 more wins than the Clippers and 2-3 more than the Mavericks which would put them as the fifth seed and potentially against the Rockets. What a matchup that would be. Of course, this is a hypothetical situation but the fact of the matter is that they are pace for 42-46 wins. Once again, while not 100% guaranteed…it’s very VERY possible.
OKC hosts the defending champion Toronto Raptors tomorrow in what’s sure to be a fun game to watch. The last matchup OKC won off a Gilgeous-Alexander floater with less than ten seconds to go. This game, expect the Raps to be playing up to their fullest potential…although it may not be enough.