Preseason: Thunder defeat Atlanta Hawks, 5 thoughts
By: Alberto Bodei, Staff Writer
In their third preseason game, the Thunder defeated the Atlanta Hawks: 113-94.
The first half, and especially the first quarter hasn't been much fun to watch. The officials called a lot of fouls, which definitely made it complicated for players to find their rhythm (especially Paul George). The Thunder ended up leading by seven points at the long break. However, in the third quarter, we had a glimpse of what this team can really do on both ends of the floor. On the defensive side, the Thunder forced Atlanta into bad shots and turnovers (Hawks scored only sixteen points), while on offense they were able to create better opportunities and to score almost at will (thirty-five points total).
With a twenty-six points lead heading into the fourth quarter, Oklahoma City "relaxed" in the last twelve minutes. The game never came close again and the second unit did a good job managing it until the end.
Schröder played another solid game. Dennis doesn't have an issue to create offense for himself, he is fast and can get by most defenders. Not only Schröder can create for himself but, as we saw today (and in the previous two games), he can create offense for his teammates. Final stat line: twenty points (9-14 FG, 1-2 3PT, 1-2 FT), 7 rebounds, 6 assists. Schröder seems like the player Oklahoma City is missing as a backup point guard since Reggie Jackson.
Thunder's defense has been suffocating at times, especially in the 2nd and 3rd quarter when it held the Hawks to only 38 total points. If this is an anticipation of what we can expect from Oklahoma City, then the defense will be one of the biggest advantages for the Thunder this upcoming season. Despite missing Andre Roberson for some more months, Oklahoma City has all the tools/players to be one of the best defensive teams in the league
Hamidou Diallo has been impressive once again. It's obviously too early to call him a draft steal, but he seems to be ready for some important minutes. Today his effort was stellar: he shot the ball well (4-8FG, 5-6 FT), tried to grab all the offensive rebounds out there (four offensive rebounds, five total), and play well defensively.
One factor which always hurt the Thunder in the previous seasons has been the bench's production. Today was just another preseason game, but the second unit (counting only the players on the roster) scored altogether 52 points (Burton's nine points are included) for the second straight time. They scored the same amount of points against the Timberwolves on Friday. It's only preseason, but it's looking good.
Let's hope Terrance Ferguson is ok. He left the game after only three minutes due to an elbow he received in his head. He looked pretty shock when the camera went on him a few minutes after while he was sitting on the bench. He didn't come back and was ruled out with a concussion.
It's unfortunate for Ferguson, not only because of the injury but mostly because today was another chance to fight for a starting spot, especially in front of his hometown.
The Thunder will play their last preseason game on Tuesday against the Milwaukee Bucks