Three Things to Look for When the Thunder Play the Jazz
Execution The Thunder has been in the bubble for three weeks, they've scrimmaged, the 76ers, Celtics, and Trailblazers. But, Billy Donovan won't have an accurate read on his team till he sees them in a real game.
Expect some sloppy play till teams find their rhythm. The Thunder had 49 turnovers in their three scrimmages, and on Thursday, all four (Lakers, Clippers, Jazz, and Pelicans) teams turned the ball over 76 times.
Billy Donovan says, "I don't think any player has played their normal rotation in these three scrimmages, so everybody's still getting their feet under them."...." The timing is going to need to get better; there' been a lot of makeshift lineups."
The Thunder hasn't had a consistent rotation since the play started. Donovan points to missing Nerlens Noel, who "tweaked his ankle" and having Shai Gilgeous-Alexander play point guard vs.the Trailblazers because Chris Paul was resting as to why Oklahoma City may have struggled at points.
The Thunder should have everyone available on Saturday, and it would make sense if Donovan goes a little deeper into his bench till he feels that everyone's conditioning is good enough to play their regular minutes.
Feel a little skittish about writing this, but after having two good scrimmages, Diallo is earning his way into the rotation. Fans love offense, and Diallo gave you that on Tuesday when he scored 16 points in 20 minutes.
Not to beat a dead horse, I could care less about his stats, what I like about Diallo, is his ability to drive to the basket without picking up charges, his active hands on defense, and the way he's been moving without the ball.
He can defend multiple positions, and as Donovan says, he does a great job of keeping himself engaged, so when he is called on, he can produce. Were his performances in the scrimmages good enough to get him regular minutes?
Diallo says, "Coach told me to stay confident and go out there and to what I'm capable of doing."..." Whether it was driving, whether if teams are gaping me, whether it's shooting the ball, just go out there and play confident and showcase the things you've been working on."
On defense, Donovan wants Diallo to be disruptive and bing energy. Diallo has the athletic ability to be a contributor for the Thunder, now is the time for him put all this information he's been processing to work and play within himself.
The Three-Headed Monster
We saw the Sahi Gilgeous-Alexander, Chris Paul, Dennis Schroder, Danilo Galliari, and Steven Adams lineup come in at the end of the second quarter against Boston. The reason for this move was to get them some time on the court before the starters sat.
I don't have my hopes up that we will see the Thunder's best line up (outscoring opponents by 29 points per 100 possessions) before the fourth quarter of any game prior to the playoffs. However, with Schroder leaving the bubble any day now when his wife gives birth, you might as well get everything out of that lineup you can.
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With more than 20 years of experience hosting local and national radio shows, Erik Gee is a fixture of Oklahoma sports media. He has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder for the past six seasons. He is also the co-host of the Pat Jones show on 97.1 The Sports Animal in Tulsa.