Today is Thanksgiving and one thing the Oklahoma City Thunder are thankful from their win last night over the San Antonio Spurs is the play of their bench.
Reggie Jackson led the way with 23 points off the pine while Jeremy Lamb added 12 points. Without those two performances, there is a good chance the Thunder don’t hand San Antonio their second loss of the season.
The Thunder’s bench has been a pleasant surprise this season. Despite featuring many young players, they have been producing. Sure, there’s been some games where they didn’t show up much, but that’s expected even for the most formidable of benches.
While the form of the Thunder has changed this season, their starting five still remains the same. That starting five depends on a productive bench and had just that the last three seasons thanks to James Harden and Kevin Martin.
The feeling is still that the Thunder will need a strong bench to get out of a deep Western Conference once the playoffs come around. That’s why what we saw last night from Jackson and Lamb is so promising.
The fact that Jackson and Lamb were able to contribute against the best team in the conference was the best thing about last night. The Spurs aren’t necessarily known for their defense, but they aren’t bad and they are a smart team that can give all kinds of players trouble. Just look at how they held Russell Westbrook to 2-of-16 shooting.
When it comes to the playoffs, the question will be if Jackson and Lamb and the rest of the crew off the pine can produce. We know Nick Collison will always be solid, Jackson proved he was ready for the big stage last year, but Lamb and Perry Jones and Steven Adams are still question marks. With no postseason experience, they may be unable to really show up in a lot of instances. It’s hard to say if the Thunder will be able to survive.
You only have to win four games out of seven to win a series. Will the Thunder need four strong bench performances in a series to win one? Or can they survive with a no-show from the bench and KD and Russ carrying the load.
Either way, what we’re seeing from the bench so far this season proves that the Thunder aren’t falling off. Their record proves this too and everyone should fully expect a healthy OKC to be ready to win the toughest conference in the league.