The Bucks are a pretty bland team, and playing them kind of produces bland games.
The game Saturday might not of been all that notable, but nonetheless, a 92-79 road win was definitely necessary, bouncing back from back-to-back losses on the West Coast.
The first half was completely gross, but a quality spark from Reggie Jackson and the second unit late in the third quarter and early fourth push the Thunder to a little cushion, to which Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant took over and slammed the door shut.
In total, the bench’s numbers aren’t collectively all that impressive — 21 points, 18 rebounds and seven assists. But where they impressed is with these numbers: +16, +10, +10, +11, +5. All five bench players (Collison, Lamb, Adams, Jackson and Fisher) were net positives, while the best in the starting five was Westbrook at a +8.
The past two games against the Clippers and Warriors, the Thunder’s bench was a little meh and while a lot of that had to do with the fact they were playing good players on their second units, some of it had to do with one of their more productive players was in the starting five. Getting Kendrick Perkins back tonight made the Thunder better for two reasons: 1) The second unit got Steven Adams back and added an important piece to a dangerous group and 2) it meant Hasheem Thabeet never got to step foot on the floor.
And Scott Brooks had a choice tonight to make with Thabo Sefolosha being out with flu-like symptoms as the starting unit was missing another piece. Instead of just inserting Jeremy Lamb at the starting shooting guard slot, Brooks went with rookie Andre Roberson, who is kind of Thabo-lite, and let the bench play as a complete unit. Roberson only played 13 minutes, but the rotations were much more natural and there was a nice flow to the substitution pattern and linueps.
But overall, there’s just not much to take away from this one or to care about. The Thunder did what they were supposed to do and handled business against below average Bucks squad and move on to a six-game homestand against some really good teams. This was one of those games where a really good team played decently against a team it’s much better than. I like to call these a “40 degree win.” It was just a win. Nobody has anything to say about a 40 degree win.
- If you’re dying to take something away, it’s Serge Ibaka sustaining his terrific play, tying a career-high on the glass with 20 rebounds to go along with 15 points and four blocks. He’s becoming a dominant two-way player and is clearing an excellent percentage of rebounds when he’s on the floor.
- The Bucks shot just 34.9 percent. They stink.
- Oh, here’s another small thing to take away: Perry Jones didn’t play tonight. Derek Fisher did, getting 20 minutes and playing in the closing lineup. Brooks has expanded to 11 players a few times, but he definitely prefers playing 10 and sees that 10th man as an interchangeable one. Tonight, Jones didn’t have a great place as the Bucks were rather guard heavy playing Mayo, Wolters, Ridnour and Middleton. So Fisher got the time, though I doubt Brooks would ever play Jones 20 minutes.
- Fisher was really good, though. He was 0-2 and didn’t score, but he basically glued himself to O.J. Mayo in the second half, who was Milwaukee’s only real offensive threat. Fisher bodied him up and just stuck with him, which essentially eliminated a solid 75 percent of the Bucks offense.
- KD with the quietest 24 points you can possible score. He was 7-15, had five board and two assists.
- Westbrook’s 26 weren’t as noisy as 26 from him typically are. He was 10-20 and had four assists, but he just kind of plodded along, knocked down a bunch of midrange stuff and got to the line a little.
- Perk returned. The Thunder with Perk: 6-1. The Thunder without Perk: 0-2. Note on that stat: It doesn’t actually mean anything, but it is indeed true.
- Here’s the thing about Perk compared to the other bigs: He’s in the right spot almost always. He doesn’t always make the play, he doesn’t always block a shot or grab a rebound. But when he’s defending the pick-and-roll or helping from the weakside, he’s almost always where he needs to be.
- Only minus tonight? Perk, who was a -5.
- Steven Adams was solid. He had seven rebounds in just 13 minutes, with two points, two blocks and one nifty assist. He definitely looked a lot more comfortable coming off the bench and playing with the second unit. It also helped that he was facing a Ridnour-Pachulia pick-and-roll and not one led by CP3 or Steph Curry.
- John Henson’s body just looks hilarious to me.
- Andre Roberson didn’t do a lot in his 13 minutes, but you can see how special he could be defensively. He’s got a long way to go on the offensive end, but as a defender, he’s already very good. He uses his length and positions himself really well. And he plays with constant energy and effort, which is about half of playing good defense.
- I really don’t understand the number 00. Is it a different number than just 0? Could you have a 00 and a 0 on the same team? Quite a few people tweeted me and said 00 is really 100, so you could conceivably have a 0 and 00. But if you’re going with zero, but would you double it up? That’s stupid.
- Also, 0 > 00.
- Jeremy Lamb had seven on 3-11 shooting. He forced a few, knocked down a floater, hit a corner 3 and had a fancy dunk. He was really active defensively though, using his length really well to blow up passing lanes. He was credited with two steals, but he probably created five.
- Westbrook’s free throw shooting is getting to that heh-heh-come-on-now-Russ point.
- Reggie Jackson is really good. Really good. He had 11 on 5-10 shooting with just one assist, but he was so much better than that tonight. He scored nine straight for OKC spanning the third and fourth quarters and just handled the game well. It’s getting to the point when he gets in the paint and doesn’t finish, it’s weird to me.
- Late to a closeout leaving a guy wide open? Forget running at him to contest. Fundamental basketball says just yell “HELLLL NO.”
- Scott Brooks pulled a Perk, getting a technical arguing a call that went in favor of the Thunder. I love when that happens.
Next up: Home against the Nuggets on Monday