There were some surprised reactions when Real Madrid triumphed over Oklahoma City Thunder in an exhilarating NBA Global Games fixture on Monday night, but by no means was this result an upset. Not by a long shot.
A lot of questions were raised, post-game as to why Russell Westbrook wasn’t used in the contest’s more crucial moments and how the Thunder let a 22-point lead slip out of their grasp and allow Real Madrid to deservedly beat them.
Well, for Real, they have already completed their pre-season and have had the added bonus of beginning their domestic season the Friday before when they bested Unicaja Malaga 101-90 in the Liga Endesa opener. So, with the extra practice and game hours behind them, the reigning Liga Endesa champions had the necessary leverage to outplay Oklahoma City in the fourth quarter and then in overtime.
On the other side of the coin, the Thunder had their first official game of the season in the Spanish capital and despite their trademark electrifying speed, while breaking out in transition, mixed with patient defence and knack for forcing turnovers thanks to quick hands; they eventually hit a brick wall and predictably fatigued late on, allowing Real and Sergio Llull to make their move and ultimately force overtime, leading to the victory.
But despite the defeat, there were positives for the Thunder: They forced 24 turnovers out of Real Madrid and gave solid minutes to their entire active roster. Victor Oladipo hit a game-high 34 points on 14/24 from the field and looks comfortable playing alongside Westbrook, who was given plenty of rest in this game, having just over 22 minutes on court.
The Thunder though will be sweating on the condition of big man Steven Adams, who received a pass from point guard Ronnie Price and went up for a quick floater. But he landed on a Madrid player’s foot and looked to injure his right ankle with 3:16 left in the second quarter.
So, in Thunder’s eyes, their pre-season is underway with coach Billy Donovan now preparing his troops for Wednesday’s clash with Barcelona at the Palau Saint Jordi. He will look to give Alex Abrines some court time again as he faces his old club and will no doubt get a positive response.
But more importantly, he will expect a much better showing from his Thunder unit, not just because they dropped their pre-season opener and will not want to exit Spain with two losses but mainly due to Oklahoma City having some valuable game experience under their belt.
NBA GLOBAL GAMES FACTS
- Since 2010, NBA teams have won 19 of the 27 pre-season fixtures against EuroLeague sides
- EuroLeague sides have recorded eight wins since 2010, with three of those wins being in the USA.
- The last time NBA champions met the EuroLeague champions was on October 7, 2010, when Barcelona defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 92-88 at the Palau Saint Jordi.
- Fenerbahce were the last team to record a win in the United States when they beat Brooklyn Nets 101-96 at the Barclays Center.
Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein | NBAE via Getty Images