Let Gallinari Play
"We're not gonna do anything different than we have all year long coming out of the trade deadline."..."First and foremost, for our team, health is always important."..."The conversations that we're having with the players, with the medical staff collaborating together, that process is continuing to go on for 82 games."..."We're not looking at it at all like the trade deadline has passed here's our team let's now start to do things differently."
Those are the words of Billy Donovan from Thursday night's pregame press conference. The Thunder were about to play their first back to back post-NBA trade deadline, and since Danilo Gallinari wasn't being shopped, it was more than fair to ask if for the first time this season would he play in both games.
In so many words, Donovan told us no, so it wasn't a surprise when he was listed as out with ankle soreness on Friday. But this was also the first time Darius Bazley was also going to be out in a back to back situation. And you were about to play the NBA's best team, why not change things up?
Gallinari's presence alone wasn't going to stop Giannis Antetokounmpo from scoring 32 points in 27 minutes, nor would it prevent the Bucks runs of 25-4, and 15-0, and Milwaukee most likely would still have outrebounded the Thunder. Maybe not by 30, Gallinari is 6-10 and averaging 5.6 rebounds a game you would think he could have grabbed a few boards, cutting that difference to say 24? Ok, this still would have been a beat down of historical proportions ( worst loss in franchise history), but he could have made it a little less historical.
Besides three-point shooting where Oklahoma City was a sicking six of 35 (dead last from beyond the arc in the NBA on Friday) where Gallinari could have made a real difference was just in the message, you're sending your team. Yes, the Thunder are 7-2 with Gallinari out of the lineup, and five of those wins have come against teams that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today.
But, this team deserves the chance to put themselves in the best position to make a run in the postseason. And to have that chance you need your best players on the floor as much as possible.
As it stands now, Oklahoma City would get the Clippers in the first round of the playoffs. The Thunder are 1-1 vs. Los Angeles, but Kawhi Leonard was out both of those contests. We also know the regular season means nothing in mid-April.
And No, the Thunder haven't played the new-look Rockets, but don't we all trust Chris Paul in the clutch more than Russell Westbrook? (see that last comment about mid-April).
Donovan is right; you need to consult players about their health and take care of them as needed. And Friday night was just one loss in an 82 game season. But, with the Thunder being just a half-game behind the Jazz for the fifth seed in the west and only 22 games left, Gallinari anyone else who can go should.
The Thunder host the Clippers Tuesday night at 7. Oklahoma City is 1-1 vs. Los Angels this season. When these teams met in November, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 32 in 118-112 win for the Thunder.
What Do You Think?
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