Last night, the Oklahoma City Thunder got a big win last night to even the series at one at piece.
An emotional MVP speech from Durant on Tuesday, the presentation pre-game in front of the Peake, and the dominant performance last night has the momentum in OKC’s favor.
There were a few things that jumped out at me during last night’s game; both good and bad. Obvouislly, the positives outweighed the negatives, but if the Thunder want to make a title run, those negatives are going to have to turn to positives.
Here are a few observations from last night’s win:
-Kevin Durant is back to being Kevin Durant. I don’t know if it was the whole MVP thing, but last night he looked like the Kevin Durant we were watching all regular season.
-PERKK!!!! The stat that really got me was that he was +18 on the floor tonight. The eight points, and nine rebounds was cool and all, but +18 was the most vital stat.
-Sefolosha played probably the worst defensive half of the season, and then completely turned it around and dominated both ends of the floor in the second half. In this series, he is essential to defending and slowing down guys like Chris Paul and JJ Redick.
-A main reason why the Thunder were struggling so much recently was frankly because they couldn’t hit shots. It seemed like there was a lid on the rim for the Thunder some nights. But last night? 50.6% from the floor and 112 points. OKC scored 37(!!) first quarter points and 33 third quarter points and showed how dynamic their offense can be at times.
-Ibaka and Perkins totally outplayed Griffin and Jordan. Jordan was -21 when on the floor, and Griffin was -19. The two Thunder bigs made every shot difficult for LA’s bigs, and held them to a combined 22 points. Slowing down LA’s big and making the Clippers rely on their guards could be crucial in this series.
-Russell Westbrook was phenomenal. I was debating whether to put a beast or unguardable in the spot of phenomenal, but all three work. The guy was just flat out on a mission last night and played with such great energy. His triple-double(31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists) was fun to watch, and he totally outplayed Chris Paul.
-Positive stat: The Thunder out-rebounded the Clippers 52-36. Wow.
-I thought it was just ironic how the Thunder found a way to win by double-digits and play so well when the bench combined for just 13 points. Nick Collison, Caron Butler, and Derek Fisher all went scoreless in the win. Reggie Jackson gave the Thunder just four points, and Caron Butler just three. Obviously, the starters–specifically Durant and Westbrook–carried the load, but in the future for the rest of the playoffs, the bench has to produce more.
-Turnovers are still a reason of concern for OKC. In Game 1, the Thunder turned the ball over 21 times, and last night, 16 times. If OKC can turn the ball over less than about 10 a game, that would be a big plus. Majority of OKC’s turnovers are actually coming from Westbrook, but that is just because he is being so aggressive.
However, the Clippers did exactly what they had to, in that they split on the road. Now, that’s Oklahoma City’s job. Coming off a great performance, the Thunder should be able to handle business on the road.