In almost all cases, it’s a little difficult to take anything of large value from a preseason game, but this season is a bit different. Mainly because there are only two warmup games before the the real deal on Christmas Day.
The final score and result doesn’t matter (Oklahoma City won 106-92), but with this being the first time the Thunder have taken the floor against another team since the Game 5 loss in Dallas last season, there we five big things to take from Sunday’s exhibition against the Mavs.
1. Transition offense. Maybe it was just a product of the flow of the game, but it really seemed like the Thunder wanted to run in the first half. Every rebound OKC was looking to break and the transition game looked really solid. One play I loved: Russell Westbrook had a halfcourt bounce pass to KD for an easy layup. Perfect decision by Westbrook and great vision to see it.
2. Slim Perk looks good. Forget the new body and healthy status, he went 6-8 from the line! He really is a new Perk. In 19 minutes though, Perk had eight points, eight rebounds and two blocks. He was defending Brendan Haywood, which isn’t really a major assignment, but you could tell Perk’s going to have a different kind of impact for OKC. I wouldn’t expect him to become a low post presence or anything, but the way he moved was definitely something to be excited about. He was just active. Hedged on screens really well, rotated on the weakside, helped when he had to — everything about him was really good and it’s mainly just because he was moving well.
3. It’s preseason. The Thunder turned the ball over 25 times and took 24 less shots than the Mavericks. They did however shoot the lights out. OKC shot 56 percent from the field, 10-21 from 3 and 34-41 from the free throw line. Here’s how you know it was the first game though: Eric Maynor had six turnovers. The most he had in any game all of last year was four, and that only happened twice.
4. The starting lineup stayed the same. Should we read anything into that? Yeah, probably so. But at the same time, Harden didn’t practice for the first few days or training camp. So maybe it’s a product of Harden not being totally ready to go. Then again, he played 22 minutes and looked really good (16 points). If Harden’s not starting Tuesday night, I would think that we’re not going to see any change in the starting five for this season. Because if the team’s winning, Brooks isn’t going to be making that change. It’s just a fact of life.
5. I honestly didn’t get much at all from this game. How’s that for a thought? But it was exceedingly sloppy, the Mavs weren’t playing with Dirk or Jason Kidd and it really turned into a battle of the benches for most of the second half. I’d expect Scott Brooks to play his starters a bit more on Tuesday in Oklahoma City to try and get ready for the opener on Sunday against the Magic. KD looked good (21 points on just five shots), once Westbrook got under control he was solid, but it’s the first semi-competitive game these guys have had since Game 5 in Dallas.