The Oklahoma City Thunder are sitting on the doorsteps of a must-win game on Monday in Our Nation's Capital. After a 10-3 December and a massive start to the New Year knocking off the Boston Celtics, the OKC Thunder have stumbled in their last two contests.
Despite sleepwalking through their tilts with Atlanta and Brooklyn, the Oklahoma City Thunder still represent one of the most talented teams in the NBA. As the freakout dies down from the last two games, the Thunder still own the second-best record in the Western Conference at 23-11.
Part of the reason for the early season success has been their offensive output, which relies on an MVP-caliber point guard in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a ton of systemized movement, and a pair of All-Star-caliber players in Jalen Williams and Chet Holmgren flanking the team's Superstar.
That has left the rest of the NBA scratching their heads on how to defend the Thunder. If you over help on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, one of the youngsters will beat you, if you do not show the MVP-level scorer enough attention he will pick apart his one-on-one matchup.
Boston Celtics fridge All-Star explains how the League is still trying to figure out the Oklahoma City Thunder.
On Tuesday night in Oklahoma City, the Thunder posted 127 points on the Celtics who lost by four in Bricktown.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander dominated even matchup put in front of him on Tuesday on his way to 36 points, seven rebounds, six rebounds, and a steal on an eye-popping 63 percent shooting from the floor, 3-for-5 from deep, and lifting OKC to a win.
However, it was not just Gilgeous-Alexander; Jalen Williams chipped in 16 points (including eight of those in the fourth), a rebound, an assist, and a trio of steals to go along with his two blocks on the defensive end. Williams missed just three shots all night.
Rookie big man Chet Holmgren helped cap the pick-you-poison offense in Oklahoma City, chipping in 14 points, seven assists, three rebounds, and a massive four blocks. Holmgren's game featured a pair of clutch fourth-quarter triples to help the Thunder survive a late Celtics run.
This left Boston's fringe All-Star guard Derrick White to scratch his head post-game as he heaped praise on this young Thunder squad.
While the Thunder earned key contributions from their big three, what really gives defenses headaches is watching as different pieces step up each night for the Thunder.
Against Boston, Josh Giddey tossed in 23 points, including four triples, eight rebounds, six assists, and was a plus-ten in the win. Isaiah Joe sparked Oklahoma City with ten points off the pine, While Jaylin Williams posted five points in eight minutes.
According to Synergy, Oklahoma City ranks in the 97th percentile in overall offense, dominating in transition (90th percentile), on spot-up looks (83rd percentile), cuts (77th percentile), post-ups (97th percentile), and isolation attempts (97th percentile)
Despite the two-game skid, it is clear that Derrick White is right: the NBA has not figured out how to defend the Thunder as they enjoy one of the best offenses in the association.