“Be careful what you wish for.”
It’s an old saying but it still rings true today. Thunder fans relished the opportunity to face off against the Houston Rockets (Russell Westbrook’s new team) in the first round of the playoffs. As fate would have it, their wish came true.
But to quote Will Smith in the iconic movie of Hitch; “I saw that, going differently in my mind.”
The Rockets ran us off of the floor, and they did so without Russ. Harden was unstoppable, dropping 37 on 54/46/87 splits and dancing with whatever Thunder defender drew the impossible task of checking him. The bench was masterful, pouring in (and I mean POURING) 42 points, including 7 made 3’s. They were led by the otherworldly performance of Jeff Green (22) Ben McLemore (14). It didn’t help the Thunder however, that arguably their best perimeter defender Luguentz (Lu) Dort was also absent from the game.
But take away how atrocious we were at defense (because we put the bad in atrocious), and we couldn’t even get it done offensively. Danilo Gallinari paced the Thunder with 29 points on 52/40/100 splits but everyone else seemed out of sorts. Sure, Steven Adams had 17 points and 12 rebounds on 50+% shooting, and Chris Paul had almost a triple double with 20 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists after starting off ice cold, but the rest of the vets just didn’t seem to bring it. Dennis Schròder, shot 3/12 for 6 points and was to ball stoppingest player on the floor. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander got to the rim at ease in the first quarter but missed both looks, and looked timid the rest of the game scoring 9 points on 2/8 shooting.
Thunder Silver Lining
The lone bright spot you could look at on the bench was Darius Bazley. The rook went out and posted 9 points (3/5, 3/4 from 3) and 9 rebounds in 17 minutes of play. We need more playing time for him, he could be a real X Factor to counter the Rockets small ball.
At the end of the day, it’s game one. CP3 and Billy Donovan both referred to it as a “feel out game” but the only thing you could “feel out” was how off this version of the Thunder looked. No effort, no movement, no communication, no freaking pride in their play.
Game two is a new day, but the Thunder have some adjustments to make if they don’t want this series to get away from them.
They got what they wished, and I wish they were ready for it.