After 138 days and very real doubt about if it would happen at all — Thunder basketball returned today in Orlando as OKC defeated the Boston Celtics 98-84 in the first of three scrimmages inside the bubble. Steven Adams led the way with 17 points and 7 rebounds — all in a dominant first half — with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander adding 17 of his own in the victory.
Most notably, however, was the much-anticipated return of Andre Roberson — who not only played but played very well in his first NBA action in 909 days.
Let’s get into it, shall we?
Andre Roberson Returns
Andre Roberson checked-in for the first time with about 5:30 remaining in the third quarter — receiving a massive ovation from his Thunder teammates (and everyone at home) as he removed his warmups and walked onto the floor.
Pretty incredible moment — it was the first time we’d seen Roberson play in 909 days.
Dre got to work quickly, picking up a quick bucket and a steal off a deflected pass. He went on to add a block and nearly ripped the net off the rim on his first three-point attempt because of course he did.
Roberson played 12 minutes in total — boasting a stat line of 5 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, and a block. He shot 2-of-3 from the field and hit 1-of-2 from downtown. He looked….good! Incredible, all things considered.
We’ll see how much burn he gets in the Thunder’s next scrimmage on Sunday. Regardless, Dre’s return to action can be considered a massive success. It finally feels safe to say it now — Dre is back.
Adams saw just 15 minutes of first-half action against the Celtics but he maximized his impact — dropping 17 points and 7 rebounds on 8-of-11 shooting. Four of his seven rebounds came on the offensive glass, as he wreaked havoc on a small Boston lineup with an incredible amount of pep in his step.
Yet somehow, the most memorable shot of the day for Adams was one of the three he missed. He took a corner three on the first play of the game in what appeared to be a designed set. It didn’t go in but it was further confirmation that 2020 does not play by reality’s set of standards.
It’s going in next time.
All-in-all, it was a very encouraging day for Adams — he looked active, quick, and 100% healthy. He could be a real monster for the Thunder moving forward if he keeps it up.
Shai saw 22 minutes of action against Boston and scored 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting. It was a relatively quiet afternoon for the young star as Adams and Roberson took on the leading roles. However, he looked every bit as smooth as you remember him.
The young man is ready — and he also didn’t turn an ankle in those Converse, making me feel infinitely better.
Starters: Billy Donovan’s starting five was the same as it was before the shutdown — Chris Paul, Lu Dort, SGA, Danilo Gallinari, and Adams.
Second-Half Starters: Donovan rolled out Dennis Schroder, Dort, SGA, Darius Bazley, and Mike Muscala to open the second half. CP3, Adams, and Gallinari were all done by the break. Boston sat all of their starters after halftime, as well.
The Rotation: It’s difficult to draw many conclusions from this one, but it was interesting that Dort started, Hamidou Diallo was up next at the 2-guard, and even Roberson got on the floor before Terrance Ferguson made his first appearance in the fourth quarter. Ferg may be on the outside looking in when the regular season resumes if today was any indication. In total, Billy played nine guys.
Quiet Days: CP3 had 2 points and 5 assists in 18 minutes of action. Schroder added 4 points in nearly 18 minutes of his own. Pretty quiet afternoon but nothing really matters at the moment.
Three-9’s: Dort scored 9 points — including a cash money three from the wing that made me squeal a little. Gallinari dropped 9 as well — hitting 3-of-5 from long range and nothing worth less than three points. Bazley rounded out the trio of 9-point scorers and added 7 rebounds in nearly 20 minutes of play.
Nader-Ball: Abdel Nader scored 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting in just under 13 minutes of play but left the game after taking a scary blow to his head in the fourth quarter. He was being checked for a concussion after the game — no word on how that went. Stay tuned.
Next Up: 11AM CT on Sunday against the Philadelphia 76ers. Like today, it will be streamed on the Thunder website and NBA TV.