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Wheeeeeew, boy. I had to take a lap before sitting down to write this. WHAT. A. GAME. After starting the game 0-5 from the field and digging themselves into a 12-point deficit, the Thunder came back to win the Game 3 in overtime to bring the series to 2-1! This was an absolute must-win game for the Thunder and even though they had to put up the fight of their lives to pull it off, they finally started to look like the Thunder team we know and love.
Just like in Game 2, Lu Dort was the game MVP. Once again, he put the clamps of James Harden holding him to 3-13 from 3PT, but admittedly fouling Harden (who went to the line 15 times) a few too many times. However, Dort’s greatest contribution to the game was drawing Harden’s 6th foul causing Harden to foul out 1 minute into overtime, clearing the way for an 11-0 Thunder run and only 3 overtime points for Houston.
After the game, Dennis Schröder was asked about the Thunder’s 11-0 overtime run and said, “Gotta give credit to Lu Dort on the defensive end. He’s amazing. Everybody was shifting and active. That was the key for the whole game and overtime.” The Thunder did look considerably more active on offense as the game progressed. By the end of the game, the Thunder were swinging the ball around the horn just like old times.
Steven Adams went out with a knee contusion towards the end of the fourth forcing the Thunder to play without him, but it was actually much better without him. Adams has struggled a lot since Game 1 of the series and it might make more sense for the Thunder to play a smaller lineup with more guards, in lieu of 30 minutes of Adams. The Thunder can still utilize Adams, but in a very specific way. Hopefully, Donovan being forced into the decision to not play Adams made him see how well it works and he will make the necessary adjustments for Game 4.
Or maybe not…
When asked about Adams after the game, Donovan said, “I think we have a huge advantage in Steven Adams. He’s obviously been really important to the team. I think Steven and Nerlens, their length, their size, their rim protection are going to be needed.”
Either way, you can look at this game like, “Wow, the Thunder had to fight *this* hard just to win in overtime” or you can look at it like, “The Thunder have finally figured out how to play at their pace and even though it won’t be easy (at all), they’ve got a shot.” I’m going with the latter.