The Oklahoma City Thunder got off to a clean start on the road against the Denver Nuggets, who were winners of 7-of-8 home games prior to this matchup. The 103-95 win should quiet some of the doubt that the Thunder aren’t that great of a road team. Not only did they manage to handle a potential playoff team pretty well on the road, they also played some exceptionally solid defense through four quarters.
The Thunder got an early boost from from the surging Serge Ibaka, who scored all 11 of the Thunder’s first points to open the first quarter. Ibaka would eventually cool down, finishing the game with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Kevin Durant remained relatively quiet in the opening stages of the game, but eventually caught fire as most would expect. Durant has been the leading candidate for MVP since opening day, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down. He finished with yet another monster game, scoring 30 points, grabbing six rebounds and two steals.
Russell Westbrook has silenced all doubt surrounding his health and production after an early return from injury. As of late, Westbrook has been Mr. Everything for OKC. He’s been a scorer, facilitator, rebounder and defender. You just don’t see that out of many guys in the NBA, especially not from the point-guard position. He’s clearly more driven than ever to get his team their first championship.
He knows Durant is the key guy, but he’s proving that the Thunder can alternate between the two at any moment if necessary. Westbrook finished the game with 21 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists, outstanding numbers. Even better, over the last six games, he has averaged more than 21 points, nine rebounds and nine assists — nearly a triple-double.
I’m truly worried for any point-guard or player who has to match up with Westbrook at this point. His focus is off the charts and he’s playing the best all-around basketball of his career.
The Thunder’s “big three” dominated from start to finish. OKC is now 20-4 on the season and remain undefeated at home. I doubt if there’s a team that could outlast them in a seven-game series. They’ve conquered all early heartache by taking down each team who has defeated them, except the Portland Trail Blazers. Other than that, they have beaten the best of the best en route being the second seed overall in the Western Conference thus far.
When the smoke clears, expect this team to be atop the West and playing better than any Thunder team we’ve seen since their debut in the league.