Keys to the Thunder's dominant victory over the Clippers

Feb 22, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Luguentz Dort (5) goes to
Feb 22, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Luguentz Dort (5) goes to / Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
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Last few thoughts

Gordon Hayward had his debut for the Thunder tonight! He looked to me like someone who was trying really hard to fit into an already existing group dynamic. He was deliberately unselfish, moving the ball around and setting screens. 

He didn’t make much of an impact on the game, but he’s still easing his way back from injury. I liked seeing him sky for rebounds and he looked like he could move his feet well on defense, so that’s reassuring.

Coach Mark Daigneault did something very interesting at the start of the fourth quarter tonight. Usually Gilgeous-Alexander rests for the first half of the 4th, and Jalen Williams runs the show. This time, Daigneault ran a lineup of SGA-Dort-Dub-Hayward-Holmgren to start the final frame. OKC’s newest addition got some run with the starters, taking Giddey’s usual spot.

This group only shared the floor for 81 seconds. Not exactly a large sample size, but it seems to have caught the Clippers off guard. OKC was able to get some easy buckets to start the quarter, thanks to the spacing that this group provides. I expect we’ll see more of this potential Death Lineup by the time we reach the playoffs.

Giddey had a quality game, notably being a part of the group that took control of the game in the 3rd quarter. Typically, lineups with Gilgeous-Alexander and Giddey sharing the floor have been good, but not great. 

They found something tonight, though, surrounding the pair with Wiggins, Wallace, and Kenrich Williams. This group has the right blend of shooting, cutting, and defense to mitigate Giddey’s weaknesses and make his strengths sing.

To wrap it up, this is the type of game that inspires belief in a long playoff run. We can talk all day long about inexperience, but tonight the Thunder looked like the veteran team against the Clippers. Oklahoma City fought a physical battle and came away with a convincing 129-107 victory.

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