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PG the Catalyst the Thunder Need

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The Oklahoma City Thunder tipped the ball off on the East coast all week. The Thunder had impressive showings in the sunshine state against the Magic and Heat, ending with a loss to Boston on ABC’s Sunday Showcase. With a record of 2-1 on the week, OKC advances to 33-19 on the season staying pat as the third seed in the West.

OKC kept Orlando at bay with their strong defense, forcing 12 turnovers. Dennis Schroder’s 18 points in the 4th cemented the victory. With five Thunder players scoring in double figures, Orlando barely had a fighting chance– even without Steven Adams and Terrance Ferguson suiting up.

In a near wire-to-wire win against the Miami Heat, the Thunder led in all but one category. OKC poured in 16 threes at a 53.3% clip with Paul George being responsible for 10 of them (career-high).

On Sunday, the Boston Celtics brought the Thunder’s seven-game win streak to an end. Efficiency and strong defense weren’t enough to turn the tide in OKC’s favor. A stagnant offense limited OKC to settle for untimely threes. A late turnover sealed their fate after the Celtics made 2 free throws on the following position.

By The Numbers

Once again, OKC tied for the highest average scoring over the last three games at 124.3 points a night. The Thunder are top 5 in field goal percentage (50.4%) and field goals made (46), powering their top three offense. They also averaged 20 points from the free throw line on 27.5 attempts per game. OKC protected the ball well last week as well, averaging 12.4 turnovers per game, good enough for fourth in the league.

Injury Report

Terrance Ferguson‘s reported back spasms have cleared allowing him back into the starting rotation after missing the game against the Magic. Steven Adams also missed the Orlando Magic game with a sprained ankle.

MVP Of The Week

Paul George without a doubt has been the most important cog in the offense. He’s averaging 39 points over the last three games and just isn’t receiving the attention he deserves. George is on a four-game streak of 35+ points scored per game with his crown jewel being a 43-point game against Miami, 29 of which came in one half.

George is a Defensive Player of The Year front runner, MVP dark horse, and an All-Star starter. Paul George’s production is a direct spur in the result of Thunder games. In wins, he’s at his peak offensive and defensive ratings and in losses, there’s a sharp decline in both metrics.

It’s safe to say PG had an incredible week. He made teams turn the ball over more than teams could make him cough the ball up. To boot he’s averaged an assist to turnover ratio of three while averaging 4.3 assists. When Paul George is incredible, the Thunder are incredible, and it’s obvious that he’s having a career year at just the right time.

Trends To Watch

For the entire month of January, OKC made it rain from three at 40.4%. OKC’s elite shooting may no longer be a trend but a sneaky part of their identity. Five Thunder players are shooting above the league’s average three-point percentage– a stat they haven’t enjoyed in team history. Three players are shooting career-highs from three on the highest attempts of their career. Paul George, Terrance Ferguson, and Dennis Schroder are all using their floor spacing to open up the game for Steven Adams, Nerlens Noel, and Russell Westbrook allowing them to get to the paint at will.

Next Up

Next week the Thunder have a home stand against the Orlando Magic, Memphis Grizzlies, and Houston Rockets. With a combined record of 2-1 against these teams, OKC has a fair chance to renew their win streak. This will be the first game OKC plays against the Jaren Jackson Jr. and the Grizzlies. OKC fans can expect the Thunder to win their two home games before battling a close shootout with the Rockets on Saturday night.

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