Zach Lowe: Thunder 'Tough as Hell'
The praise for the Thunder continues to pour in from the national media. Despite a couple of shaky starts against Philadelphia and Portland, Oklahoma City went 3-0 in restart scrimmages, and are showing they have the depth to make noise in the playoffs.
As good as the reserves were (85 points) in helping beat the Trailbazlers, it's the Thunder's improbable 40-24 record before the NBA shutdown that is making believers of those in Bristol. Tuesday on the Jump Zach Lowe and Richard Jefferson both said Oklahoma City is a "dangerous" matchup for any team in the association.
Here's Lowe's exact quote:
"I think they're really dangerous they're one of the best clutch I've ever seen in the NBA and Chris Paul is one of the greatest clutch players in the history of the NBA his teams always out preform in the clutch."
"I don't think this team has another gear to get to in the postseason."..."That's not a bad thing; they're already really good, I think they've already, I think they kind of maximized what they have."
"That said, they're dangerous because they're tough as hell, they play good defense, to RJ's (Richard Jefferson) point they know exactly who they are."..."They have an identity, they're comfortable with it, and they will not beat themselves."
While I agree with Lowe that the Thunder may not have "another gear" they can shift into, they do have Billy Donovan. Donovan's willingness to mix up his rotations is Oklahoma City's ace in the hole.
Donovan is not afraid to bring someone one off the bench if they've been sitting for a few games. If he thinks that that player can present matchup problems for the other team, they will be on the court.
As a result, you have a bench that is ready to go at a moment's notice because they have to stay engaged, whether they're getting minutes or not.
Jefferson Says: "I think they're very, very built for this." Jefferson cites Chris Paul's mid-range game as one of the reason's the Thunder is successful against teams who buy entirely into the analytics of trying not to give up lay-ups and three-point shots.
"Chris Paul has an amazing in-between game, floaters creates, so I love Chris Paul at the helm of this team he has been such a great leader to these young players, that's why I believe they are where they are."
We'll have a better read were on where this team is after Saturday. But after a fourth and half month layoff and three scrimmages, things seem to be pointed in the right direction.
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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.