OKC ThunderDome

Beyond…Waaaay Beyond…

Game 25 Results: Crush

Final Score: Thunder 106, Cavaliers 77

Record: 17-8

Stat Leaders:

Points: Durant with 25, Anthony Parker with 12

Rebounds: Anderson Varejao with 16, Collison with 8

Assists: Westbrook with 11, Mo Williams with 4

We can rest easy after this one, can’t we?  The Cavs are not a good team.  We know this.  However, the Wolves are not a good team.  The Rockets are not a good team.  The Sixers are not a good team.  What made this one different?

Let us count the ways:

  1. Macro level: The team shot 53.2%, while clamping down on defense, holding the Cavs to 33.8%.  The Thunder had 25 team assists on 41 field goals.  After a game where they had 20 turnovers, they cut that number down to 12.  They destroyed the Cavs in the paint, winning the scoring battle 56-28.
  2. Micro level:  To a man, the Thunder players all played efficiently and competently.  With no player going for more than 30 minutes, only one player (Ibaka) had a net +/- that was negative.  Without naming names, the players boasted lofty net-nets of: +32, +26, +26, +19, +18, +12.  Ok, the +32 was actually thrown up there by Collison, and Nick only had 2 points.  Think on that.
  3. The Thunder bench was awesome.  Led by James Harden’s 19 points, even the young fellas Mullins (5 points, 5 rebounds) and White (4 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists) got good minutes to flex their muscles.  You may not realize it, but often the key to blowouts is bench play.  Say what? Oh yes.  The bench is critical from either one of two fronts:
    1. The bench is superior to the opposing bench, and actually increases the lead.
    2. The bench is competent enough to not lose any of the lead while the studs get their rest.

We can’t ever escape the fact that the Cavs have been gutted of a once in a generation player, team pride, and really any sort of motivation to play hard this year (Tough? Yeah, but fair), and the fact that the Thunder were playing at home. Respectfully.  However, what this win showed us is an ability to take care of business in a way that they had not this year against a team that has no business staying on the court with them.  Merciless? Oh yeah. And loving it.

What made me happiest though was that, instead of just playing out the string once the game was no longer in doubt, they still maintained their defensive focus.  They held the Cavs to 32 points in the 2nd half (13 in the 3rd alone).  The team had high energy throughout, and a brief perusal of the Cav’s final shot attempts confirms it – the majority of their attempts came from perimeter jumpers.  The Thunder simply did not let up, regardless of what point they were in the game.  This achievement is both an attributable to good coaching and players willing to commit to the game, not for the sake of winning this night, but for every night.

Keep it coming.  Keep it coming.

Next Game: Rematch against the Rockets at home on Wednesday, December 15 at 8:00PM EST

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