Every week we seem to have a new favorite to win the NBA championship, but right now it’s hard to suggest anyone playing better than the Oklahoma City Thunder, who move on with a 7th consecutive victory, this time over the Denver Nuggets, while the duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook remain quite unstoppable.
The Thunder came away with the 105-93 win over the Nuggets, a team they’ve struggled against in the past. However, it used to be about Denver’s ability in the paint, especially last season, which is very different from this one in Denver. For the Thunder? Not so much. They’re now 20-4, and everything seems to be clicking. Steven Adams gives them a solid backup center, and probably better than the one who is starting. Serge Ibaka is shooting better than ever. Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb can be a tad more consistent, but that’s about it.
At the heart of it all is the defense, which forced 15 turnovers on the Nuggets. The Thunder do have an issue with remaining focused defensively, but when Durant and Westbrook are on the same page with everyone else, it becomes very difficult scoring points against them. The running game becomes more and more hard to stop, and eventually the individual talent the Thunder rely on so much does the rest.
Kevin Durant had a slow start, but finished with 30 points on 11-of-23 from the field. The moment he started hitting his shots, a lot of them coming from a big hole beneath the basket on the Nuggets’ part, the Thunder started drifting away from Denver, who simply couldn’t run as efficiently. Russell Westbrook scored 21 points, adding 13 rebounds and 8 assists, but also turning the ball over 8 times, trying to do a bit too much on his own, which is nothing new.
Westbrook did very well when he was double teamed, saying after the game that finding open players is very important to him, and it’s his job to make double teams pay by finding the open man. The Thunder weren’t on a great shooting game, hitting only 5-of-22 from distance, but they had enough easy baskets in the paint (52 points) to make the previous number look a lot less worrying, shooting an overall 48.9% from the field.
The Thunder also outrebounded Denver 53-43, which brings up an interesting number: They are 15-1 this season when grabbing more rebounds than their opponents. They didn’t do something special on the offensive glass; it’s more of an indicator as to how many bad shots their defense created, as Denver also lost Jordan Hamilton at some point for trying to punch Steven Adams, who himself got a little dirty with an intentional screen in order to hurt Hamilton.
So right now, it can’t get much better. The Thunder know that now doesn’t mean that much, and this game against Denver doesn’t serve as real proof of how good they really are and what their chances in the playoffs will be. However, it’s hard to find too many flaws right now in the Thunder’s game, which most of them can be negated by simply letting Durant and Westbrook run wild.