Noel and Nader are Out, Plus the Fine Line Between Winning and Losing
As expected, Nerlens Noel and Abdel Nader will sit out Wednesday's game with the Toronto Raptors. Both are nursing left knee sprains, and there is no timetable for their return. It's not all bad news concerning Noel. Billy Donovan says he has been day to day for a while. Noel is going through workouts; he's on the court, this isn't just a matter of him being in the training room. Right now, it's up to the medical staff and Noel to determine when he is ready to play. Nader hasn't been doing anything on the court since his injury in the Timberwolves game on Monday.
The Thunder are 17-6 since Thanksgiving that is the fourth-best record in the NBA during that time, according to Thunder PR. One of the reasons for Oklahoma City's success is how good they have been in the clutch. Chris Paul leads the NBA in clutch points (103), Shai Gilgous-Alexander ranks 10th in clutch points, and Danilo Gallinari is tied for third in clutch threes. Donovan was asked what are some of the things his team is doing to help the Thunder win. "I think we've gotten more comfortable playing with one another." ..."There's a lot of those games we were fortunate to win that could have gone the other way."...Donovan gives his guys credit for competing, playing hard, and putting themselves in a position to win.
Gilgeous-Alexander has a lot to live up to after Monday's 20,20, and 10 performance. Those 20 rebounds helped him become the youngest player in association history to grab 20 rebounds while recording a triple-double. Gilgeous-Alexander was challenged by the coaching staff to rebound more. Donovan thinks he his selling himself short if he is not impacting the game with more than just scoring. "He needs to become a really, really elite two-way player."..."He needs to be a great rebounder; he needs to be a great defender and a great set up assist guy." Donovan praises Gilgeous-Alexander for being self-reflective and pushing to do the things he is asked to do.