Preseason Progression Continues in Dallas

Paris Lawson

By Paris Lawson | Digital Content Reporter |

Two weeks of training camp and two exhibition games have transpired for the Thunder thus far this preseason. Leading up to training camp, there were questions surrounding the new identity of this team both offensively and defensively. The Thunder has utilized time during training camp and non-record-threatening games to build up a solid foundation and find its footing. Now, with two exhibition games under its belt, the Thunder looks to keep progressing in the right direction on Monday in Dallas for their penultimate preseason test.

In the first preseason game against Dallas in Tulsa’s BOK center, the Thunder got off to a hot offensive start led by center, Steven Adams, who was not widely known for his abilities behind the arc and yet knocked down a triple in the opening play of the game to the fans’ surprise. This illustrated that things were going to look a little different for the Thunder this season. It proved a new Thunder offense where everyone will be able to create for each other with constant ball-movement and off-ball player actions which played out well in a 15-point victory over Dallas on Tuesday. However, on the defensive end, the Thunder allowed a whopping 50 three-point attempts from the Mavs.

The Thunder took that lesson into Thursday, when it faced off against the NBL’s New Zealand Breakers. In a strong response to Coach Donovan’s ‘heels above the three-point line’ call, the Thunder only allowed 27 three-point attempts from the Breakers and eight makes.

“One of those things that we had against Dallas, I thought we had some short closeouts, and not getting all the way up to the three-point shooters and then we did a better job because New Zealand didn’t take as many (three-pointers) against Memphis as Dallas did against us but they still were trying to get them up and I thought we did a pretty good job of being up and contesting better,” said Donovan.

Hamidou Diallo

Although the game against New Zealand was a step in the right direction defensively, the next area of focus for this squad was in the details on that end of the floor.

“We changed a couple things on the defensive end and we’re working on it. We don’t have the same defensive principles as last year,” said Thunder guard Hamidou Diallo, who had a solid performance during his 20 minutes against New Zealand with 16 points and six rebounds.

“We changed up a couple things and are working on a couple different strategies to help us guards and help the bigs have a better level of communication on the court.”

Hamidou Diallo and Abdel Nader

Whether it was about coverage on a screening action or closing out high to a three-point shooter, communication was indeed an area in which the Thunder trended in the right direction following the New Zealand game on Thursday. It has been a point of emphasis with the amount of new additions and young faces on the roster along with new offensive and defensive schemes. That level of talk will continue to be tested as the Thunder tries different lineups throughout preseason games and the attention to detail gets more and more focused in a game setting leading up to regular season.

“We’re trying to get some other guys and look at some different combinations of players and get different guys different extended minutes,” said Donovan.

“We’ll see where we’re at coming out of the half, but the biggest thing is just to get guys an opportunity to play inside of what we’re trying to do and try to give them some confidence and some reps in those situations.”

Regardless of the tactic or scheme that may or may not be an area of focus going into each preseason game, the underlying message is the same – continue forward movement. Pursuing a rhythm where each practice is a step up from the last and each game better than the one before. It’s the thesis of training camp and the testament of this team.

“Just go out there, compete, and try to get better each and every game as a team. That’s been the message for us. We just have to go out there and work on the things we’ve been emphasizing in practice,” said Diallo.

Watch the Thunder take on Dallas at 7:30 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Oklahoma or listen on WWLS 98.1 FM OKC.

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