In their last game of a three-game road trip, against the East's third seed in the Boston Celtics, the Oklahoma City Thunder were set to suit up without their leading scorer in Canadian Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
This would be their first game of the season without their reliable sophomore guard.
However, with him not on the floor, the remaining part of the Thunder's key backcourt trio - Chris Paul and Dennis Schroder - led the team to a huge 18-point comeback victory at the TD Garden in Boston.
In fact, it was the Schroder, who stripped Kemba Walker in the final seconds and laid in the game-winner.
Nope that's our ball. #DennisSchröder | #6thman pic.twitter.com/8wzuzEAZgs- OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) March 9, 2020
Here are the biggest takeaways from this game:
CP3 & Schroder carry Thunder
With no SGA, Chris Paul scored a team-high 28 points while also recording seven assists and six rebounds. Half (14) of his points came in the third quarter, a period the Thunder really turned the game around by outscoring the Celtics 31-21.
The 34-year-old has been doing this all season for the Thunder.
Chris Paul this season:- StatMuse (@statmuse) March 9, 2020
He's on pace to become the first 34-year-old (or older) to average 17p/5a on 60 TS% in NBA history. pic.twitter.com/fk7PUJrzzR
Meanwhile, Schroder continued his impressive season off the bench. He finished with 27 points, 16 of which came in the second half, and six assists in 34 minutes.
Bench players averaging 19+ PPG, 4+ APG in a season since 1983:- StatMuse (@statmuse) March 9, 2020
- Dennis Schroder this season
- Lou Williams in 2018-19
- Lou Williams in 2017-18
Lou Will won Sixth Man of the Year in both those seasons. pic.twitter.com/M4FwfmNCMT
Tatum cools off again, C's lose 4th straight at home
After being named Eastern Conference Player of the Month for February, Jayson Tatum has had cold shooting nights in two of the three game since.
He managed 19 points (7-of-19 FG) in a 99-94 loss to the Utah Jazz and in this one, he finished with 19 (8-of-22 FG) again.
As a team, this was the fourth straight home loss for the Celtics - the first time that's happened since 2015. Comforting or not, but they aren't the only playoff team from either conference to have a rough start to the month of March.
- Rockets have lost 4 straight- StatMuse (@statmuse) March 9, 2020
- Bucks have lost 3 of 4
- Celtics have lost 4 of 5
- Nuggets have lost 3 of 5
- Sixers have lost 5 of 8
- Kings have won 5 of 6
- Knicks have won 3 of 5
- Cavs have won 2 straight
Clutch comeback kings ride momentum
The OKC Thunder have got to be among the most impressive stories of this season. After trading away their two All-NBA players in Russell Westbrook and Paul George this past offseason, they took some time to gel but once they found their identity, they have never looked back.
Their record of 34-13 since Thanksgiving is third-best in the league during this period, only behind the teams leading their conferences in the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Thunder have made it a habit of registering come-from-behind clutch wins and given the talent on their roster, it's impressive to say the least, that they have the fourth-best league record of 29-13 in the clutch (margin of five points in the last five mins of the game).
With this win, the Thunder went 3-0 on their road trip and with the Houston Rockets' loss to the orlando Magic, jumped to the 5th seed in the West. In fact, with the Nuggets dropping three of their last five, the Thunder are just 2.5 games out of the third seed in the West.
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.