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OKC’s 1-0 On The Season As Russ & Company Beat The Sixers (103-97)
The Oklahoma City Thunder have been ready to get this season under way so they can experience life without Kevin Durant. On Wednesday they were in Philadelphia to find out how that would be as they went against the Sixers and Joel Embiid. The pace of the game was pretty much all Sixers until Russell Westbrook went on a scoring spree in the first quarter to bring the Thunder within 4 points early in the 1st. Russell Westbrook was attacking and was able to get his teammates involved very early in the game. As soon as Westbrook started attacking the basket he ended up ruffling the feathers of some Sixers fan in the crowd as he hit Russell with the “double middle fingers”
The fan was ejected from the game at Wells Fargo Arena and all that did was get Russell Westbrook and the OKC Thunder more engaged and focused in the game. Westbrook was under 10 points in the game at that point when the fan did that and he finished with 32 points, 9 assists, and 12 rebounds. The Thunder were in control of the game when Russell Westbrook was in the game and it seemed as though the Sixers were able to creep back in the game when he exited.
The Sixers bright spot in the game was their impressive rookie Joel Embiid who was able to finally play in his NBA debut. Joel Embiid was able to do anything he wanted to do against the Thunder in the paint and that was including against Steven Adams. Embiid scored 20 points in only 22 minutes of action tonight for the Sixers. The Thunder were having trouble with stopping him and Okafor in the game when both played with one another. Steven Adams didn’t have the monster game that everyone was expecting him to have as he had 16 points and 5 rebounds. Even without the monster game his defensive presence in the paint was one of the reasons the Thunder were able to hang around in the game to win.
The Thunder are going to have some growing pains in the beginning and you can tell this will take some time. A lot of the players are still trying to get the hang of playing together and now with Russell Westbrook logging more minutes in the game it’s totally different now. Westbrook was nothing short of great in his season debut as the face of the franchise. Russ was encouraging his teammates and motivating them all night as he was able to will them in the win. His leadership was on full display and it proved that he was ready for his moment to be the man.
Victor Oladipo was able to come up huge in the game as well. Victor proved that he’s not just a scorer for the Thunder he can also defend as he had some key defensive stops late in the game including taking a charge on Embiid. Victor is going to be a streaky player for the Thunder this season and even though he had 10 points tonight he was very active. The Sixers couldn’t stop the Thunder’s penetration as they had OKC in the bonus majority of the night.
The Oklahoma City Thunder were able to sneak out of Philly with the victory and will be hosting the Phoenix Suns at home on Friday.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Chris Szagola