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The Thunder fell to the Clippers in a game that didn’t matter much for either team. The Clippers have already clinched the 2 seed in the West and the Thunder will either be the 4 or the 5 seed depending on if the Rockets win their game against the Sixers tonight. Since there is no home court advantage this season, it truly did not matter if OKC won tonight’s game or not.
However, there were some positives that can be gleaned from the Thunder’s performance. First, Dennis Schröder is back! He only played 25 minutes but ended up with 17 points on 6-12 FG and 3-3 from three. It was encouraging to see that he still looks great and appears perfectly ready for the Thunder’s first playoff game against Houston on Tuesday.
Second, Andre Roberson played 28 minutes (up from his previous game-high of 13 minutes). Donovan had alluded to increasing Roberson’s minutes in the pre-game press conference and even though Roberson only finished with three points (1-9 FG and 0-6 3PT), it was good to see him logging extra time on the court. If Dort has to miss a couple of games with his knee strain, Roberson would be the best defensive replacement if he can keep his conditioning up and find his shot again.
Finally, the star of tonight’s game was Hamidou Diallo, who notched a career-high 27 points (10-22 FG and 4-8 3PT). Diallo has struggled in the Bubble so far and has often looked out of control on offense, but he was completely in control tonight. Diallo could also be a potential starting lineup replacement for Dort, but if so, that doesn’t explain why Donovan let him play 40 minutes tonight.
Oklahoma City will have three days off before their first game against Houston. Hopefully, Dort will be cleared to play by then and the Thunder can face the Rockets fully healthy. There are no specific details on Westbrook’s injury timeline, but it appears he will miss at least the first two games of the first round–a disappoint for Russ, but a big opportunity for the Thunder to take advantage of.