In Game 6 and 7 of the first round, the Oklahoma City Thunder started to look like themselves for once. There was a positive vibe from the organization, players and fan base. The Thunder finally started to play like the Thunder.
Heading into tonight, we all were expecting that refreshed Oklahoma City team that just started to peak.
But instead we saw the opposite.
Tonight, we saw a dead, tired, and beaten Thunder team. On the flip side, we saw a dominate, energized, emotional and hungry Clipper team.
In the first half, Chris Paul single handily dominated the game. Paul finished the first quarter with 17 points, and the half with 22 points on 8-9 from the floor and 6-6(!!) from deep. OKC trailed 69-52 at half, and in case you’re not the best at math, was on track to give up 138 points tonight.
Fortunately, that didn’t happen. But, the Clippers were pretty darn close.
To open up the second half, Scott Brooks had Ibaka at the 5, Durant at the 4, with Westbrook, Butler and Jackson on the floor. I thought (and clearly Brooks did as well) that going small was the best idea against LA, but it didn’t seem to matter because the Clippers just kept adding on to their lead. Chris Paul was 8-8 from deep but finally missed one at the 5:25 mark in the third quarter. With 5:00 to go in the third, the Thunder trailed 91-66. Heading into the fourth, OKC trailed 104-78.
After a Jamal Crawford three, Los Angeles extended their lead to 113-86 and never looked back with 7:32 to go. Los Angeles led by as much as 29 tonight and just never got complacent. Oklahoma City lost Game 1 122-105 as Chris Paul led the Clippers with 32 points (12-14 from field and 8-9 from deep). Russell Westbrook had 29 points for the Thunder.
The good thing about the game about basketball and the NBA playoffs is that it’s a seven game series. Before you overreact, realize that the Clippers played their absolute best basketball tonight and the Thunder played close to their worse. Once again, it is a SEVEN game series, folks. Not one.
Game 2 is Wednesday night at 9:30 PM ET. The Thunder need to bounce back big time. As Steve Kerr said,”The biggest adjustment will be emotionally. The Thunder will need to bring it Wednesday night.”