OKC fall short of the Sixers 93-117 in a game that gradually got away from the thunder as the quarters went on. This match saw the return of Lu Dort and Darius Bazley into the starting lineup for the Thunder, and it turns out that Bazley’s shoulder ‘contusion’ was in fact a fractured scapula. In Bazley’s first game back he played a full 36-minutes and looked happy to be on the court, even if he was a little rusty. Despite the occasional slip with the ball, Bazley found his rhythm early with a couple of threes and ended the game with 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting. The Sixers also saw a couple of lineup changes, with Furkan Korkmaz and Matisse Thybulle replacing Danny Green and Tobias Harris, and Korkmaz replaced Harris’ production seamlessly, notching 20 points in the contest, whilst Thybulle was in his usual stalwart defensive anchor position.
The Thunder lineup of Bazley, Aleksej Pokusevski, Moses Brown, Theo Maledon, and Lu Dort now own the crown of the youngest NBA starting five in history, with an average age of 20 years and 4 months. With a youth team like this, battling against one of the best teams in the NBA, the difference in skill and experience was on show from the start. Brown tried his hardest to contain Joel Embiid, but this MVP candidate showed why he is an MVP candidate, barrelling inside, 27 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 blocks, he had his way with the Thunder defense for all 27 minutes he played.
The Sixers maintained a healthy high-teens to twenty-point gap through the second half and the game’s outcome was never in doubt, but the biggest takeaway for this young Thunder team would be the three-point shooting or lack of. The Thunder shot 8 of 20 from three in the game, a season-low for three-point attempts which in this three-point era will keep OKC out of a lot of contests. This would be a combination of elite perimeter defending from the Sixers and a collection of inconsistent shooters in the Thunder. It is no surprise when your big bombers like Muscala, Horford, and SGA are out of the lineup, but coach Daigneault should look to emphasize this part of the Thunder’s development moving forward. There is a lot of promising youngsters on this roster, and the shooting could be a big weapon for them in the future.
This loss adds to the Thunder’s pile of recent blowouts as they chase a solid lottery pick. Whilst this win in addition to Brooklyn’s loss against the Lakers puts Philadelphia at the top of the standings in the East. They are now tied with the Nets for the number one seed.
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