Prior to the beginning of this season, there was a lot of hype surrounding the Philadelphia 76ers and the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, the reasons for the hype were very different. On one side, a young 76ers team with two up and coming stars. On the other, a seasoned Thunder team with three proven stars looking to win a championship.
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Triple Overtime Takeaways
The hype surrounding both teams has continued throughout the season and they did not disappoint on Friday. In their first matchup this season, the Thunder won a 117-115 triple overtime game. The game brought both teams to an even 14-14 on the season. Let’s take a look at some of the things we learned from both teams in this game.
Thunder Big Three Continue to Struggle
Though the Thunder did pull out the win, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, and Paul George did not play particularly well collectively. Making just 29 of 73 shots, the trio shot well below the league average. Of the three, Anthony was the only player to shoot well at nearly 65 percent. Until the big three of the Thunder can consistently play well together, they will not be able to compete at a high level.
Perhaps most surprising was the play of Westbrook. Late in the third overtime, Westbrook missed two free throws that could have put the game out of reach for the 76ers. Making just 10 of 33 shots Westbrook shot just 30.3 percent from the field. As the franchise player, the Thunder need to see more efficient productivity out of him.
After the game in an interview with Doris Burke, Westbrook said, “I don’t really give a damn about percentages, all I care about is wins”.
This is a great sentiment, to not care about the individual accomplishments. However more efficient play will lead to more wins. To be below the league average in field goal, three-point, and free throw percentages is not where you want your best player to be. On the bright side, the NBA season is very long and Westbrook has plenty of time to turn things around.
Embiid sets Career High in Minutes
Another takeaway from this game is the amount of minutes injury prone Joel Embiid was able to play. Embiid has been on a minutes restriction for the past two seasons. And it seems that the restriction did not matter in this game. Embiid showed some very obvious fatigue but even with that, he was able to contribute. Late in the third overtime, Embiid had a beautiful chase down block that kept the 76ers in the game. Even though the 76ers did end up losing the game, fans should be hopeful.
Embiid is a very special player and if he can play normal minutes the 76ers have a shot against anyone. Embiid is a leader and has a “never back down” attitude.
After the game, Embiid had something to say about Westbrook, “He told me to go home. I mean this is my home, so I guess it’s time for him to go home. They won the game, I give them a lot of credit, he did a lot of things, but the dude shot like 10 of 33. I wish I would have shot 33 times, I guess we would have had a better chance of actually winning the game. But you know, he told me to go home, and this is my home and I ain’t going nowhere.”
For such a young player to call out a reigning MVP like that takes a lot of guts. With this attitude, Embiid has the potential to lead this team very far. 76er fans should be very hopeful for the future.
Following this game, it appears that the winning team has reasons for concern. While the losing team has reasons to be hopeful. This goes to show that the final score is not the only takeaway. It will interesting to see where these two teams end up come playoff time.
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