The Oklahoma City Thunder announced to the NBA world that they have arrived with their NBA Play-In win over the New Orleans Pelicans. The OKC Thunder will now advance to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves with the right to go to the first round of the NBA Playoffs on the line.
The OKC Thunder are the youngest team in the NBA and the second youngest team in NBA history. They have yet to see their lone top-five pick step on the hardwood, as Chet Holmgren has been sidelined all season with a foot injury suffered back in August.
Still, the Thunder surpassed expectations and found themselves 40-42 this season, in control of the tenth seed in the NBA Western Conference. Good enough to qualify for the NBA Postseason after a two-year absence, the longest drought since relocated from Seattle. They have become the first tenth seed in the West to beat a ninth seed.
The OKC Thunder have announced themselves on the biggest stage in the NBA and have arrived for the world to see.
Josh Giddey scored 31 points, ten assists, and nine rebounds with a blocked shot. Giddey went 6-for-7 at the free throw line and 2-for-2 at the 12-second mark in the fourth quarter. The 20-year-old hit 50 percent of his shots from the floor and 3-for-7 from beyond the arc. For all the talk and questions about whether Giddey could play on this stage, he proved he could before he could even legally have a celebratory beer after a big win.
Lu Dort, who has been under fire all season long, hit four of his eight three-point attempts and shot 57 percent from the floor with multiple and-ones. Those 27 points, five rebounds, an assist, and a block in 36 minutes were yet another stellar performance in a do-or-die game.
Then, after a slow start, your superstar point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander poured in 32 points, five rebounds, three assists, three steals, and a block while shooting 2-for-5 from deep and 50 percent from the floor.
The OKC Thunder out-executed the Pelicans down the stretch of this game, Mark Daigneault out-coached his opposition in his first-ever postseason game, and the Thunder continue to survive and advance.
Young teams are not supposed to be nearly .500, young teams are not supposed to close out games, and young teams, are not supposed to win on the road in the postseason. This one does.
No matter what happens on Friday, the Oklahoma City Thunder are coming for the rest of the NBA, and the League knows it after watching tonight’s game.