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Thunder Get First Win Of The Season With Strong Performances From Shai Gilgeous-Alexander And Tre Mann

Oklahoma City – Thunder welcome the Clippers in their second of a three game homestand and looked to get their first win of the season.

Most would think that the game would be easier to win since neither Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, or Marcus Morris we’re playing but this Clippers team is one of the deepest teams in the league with possibly the best coach in the league so they were going to have to fight no matter what.

Unlike the first three games of the season, the Thunder starters brought their energy and effort on both ends of the floor and were able to quickly jump on the Clippers early in the first quarter which set the tone for the rest of the game. They moved more on offense and got great looks. It won’t show in the boxscore but the movement, player and ball, was much improved from previous nights.

That allowed guys like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Tre Mann to have great nights and put up great numbers while everyone else settled into their role. They were much more active on the defensive end by getting in passing lanes, having excellent point of attack defense, and making sure their man felt them.

The Thunder won their first game of the season 108-94 and yes it’s very early but this was by far the best game they have played and it’s no wonder why they were able to get the victory.

Here are the 3 mains reasons for the victory:

Movement Is Back!

In the preseason the Thunder showed improvement in moving the ball, having more player movement, and not really settling. That wasn’t the case in the first few games but changed against the Clippers.

It started early with their energy on the offensive end with their player movement which led to them getting great looks. If you just looked at the boxscore you wouldn’t think they were getting or taking good shots because their field goal and three point percentage wasn’t good at all but the shots they got tonight were the best shots they have gotten in the first few games of the season.

In the previous games, the settled and put up too many threes and it looked like they were playing into what the Nuggets and Wolves wanted them to do but that also wasn’t the case tonight which is shown in the boxscore with their 70 shots in the paint. They could have easily settled because the Clippers were giving them those threes but instead they drove and got great looks in the paint.

If the Thunder can continue to do this the sky is the limit for their offense. Especially when they’re at full strength.

Signs Of Top 10 Defense

Anytime you only give up 94 points in today’s NBA you played some great defense.

This was the first time in the short season so far that they showed signs of that top ten defense from last season and it was beautiful to see. They were extremely locked in and it started from the beginning of the game when the starters set the tone on the defensive end. They were constantly in passing lanes, played physical without fouling, made their man feel them, and their point of attack defense was on point.

They made it tough for the Clippers all night which led to their 12 steals, 8 blocks, and 19 forced turnovers that led to 23 points.

Defense for the most part is about effort and that’s the one thing you can do everything single night. You may not shoot well, you may not get open shots and even if you do, you may not make them but you can for sure give effort on defense and make things hard for your opponent. That’s what the Thunder did against the Clippers.

If they can do that every night they will once again be a top 10 defense.

Loving The Ball

The Thunder have only had 6 games where they have had 5 or less turnovers in a game. That turned into 7 after Tuesday night’s game against the Clippers.

You combine this with their physical defense and this was probably the single biggest reason for the win. They didn’t give the Clippers many extra possessions to come back or get into a rhythm which is very impressive for a young team to do.

Even more impressive is, as mentioned above, they forced 19 turnovers. When you have a combination of forcing a lot of turnovers with not turning the ball over yourself you have a formula for winning many games.

The Clippers, even without Kawhi and PG, are a good defensive team that has a lot of length so for the Thunder to only have 5 turnovers was beyond impressive. More play like that please.

The Thunder were led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who had a great night and has really mastered knowing when to get his and when to get others involved and has also focused more on the defensive end with his 33 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 3 steals. Tre Mann also had a great night with 25 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists while Aaron Wiggins added 11 points and 10 rebounds. Off the bench Mike Muscalla was very solid with 8 points and 10 rebounds with Kenrich Williams also adding 10 points and 7 rebounds off the bench.

Oklahoma City will look to start a winning streak when they face off against the Clippers again on Thursday night at home before hitting the road.