By: Walter Agnitsch
The Thunder are officially undefeated to start the 2016 NBA season. They beat the Philadelphia 76ers in Philly 103 to 97. By no means was this the greatest Thunder offensive performance but the defense was able to get stops late when they needed to secure the win. Going into the game the 76ers were missing their number one draft pick Ben Simmons to a hurt foot and Nerlens Noel to a knee injury. The Thunder were missing Cameron Payne due to his broken foot.
Although Philly was missing two of their key players, they got back Joel Embiid who missed all last season due to injury. He started the game off hot and was able to give them an early lead of 10-2. For each run the 76ers went on the Thunder went on one of their own and it all started on the defensive side. Going into half the game was tied at 51 a piece with Steven Adams having a great first half going for 12 points.
The key for this game was the fourth quarter performance of the Thunder winning it 34-22. They had three major stops at the end of regulation. Victor Oladipo played Three-quarters of bad basketball but made up for it in the fourth quarter having clutch back to back shots and taking a charge on Joel Embiid. The Thunder play the Phoenix Suns next on Friday for their season opener.
- Why Kyle Singler?????
Kyle had perhaps the best preseason of all the Thunder players shooting extremely well from the three-point line. This gave many Thunder fans hope that he could be a productive offensive player off the bench. Well, Wednesday night he took a huge step back going one of six from the field and one for five from the three-point line. I know it’s only been one game but I can’t help but feel the pre-season was a fluke.
- Is there a ceiling for how good Russell can be?
Russ once again proved why he will be in contention for the MVP trophy. Russell is like a good wine; he just keeps getting better with age. Russ was cheated out of a triple-double by Oladipo’s blown layup, he went 11 of 21 from the field for 32 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists. Former complaints of Russ were he shoots too much, 21 shots is perfect. Another was that he is not accurate, over 50 percent shooting looks pretty good. The last one we all know is he has too many turnovers. Russ only had two turnovers. The best part of the night by far was Russ getting flipped the double bird by the big guy in a 76ers jersey. To Russell’s credit, he kept his cool and let the security escort the big guy out even though he deserved a punch to the face. The best comment came from Steven Adams.
- It was nice to see a 10-man rotation.
Oladipo, Singler, and Roberson all had bad offensive games but the other guys picked up the slack and got some points, including Semaj Christon who beat out Ronnie Price for the backup point guard position. The minutes were perfectly distributed and rookie Sabonis had some great moments for the team. The only players that weren’t able to see the floor were Lauvergne, Morrow, and Collison. Expect to see Morrow if Singer keeps struggling from the field.