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Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan gestures during the second half of the team's NBA preseason basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018, in Minneapolis. The Thunder won 113-101. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Donovan and OKC Rising Above Expectations

Billy Donovan has the Oklahoma City Thunder at what some would say a surprising 33-22 record. The Thunder won last night, defeating Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans. The Thunder are now in 6th place in the Western Conference standings at the All-Star break.

Donovan and OKC Finding a Way Despite Roster Turnover

The Oklahoma City Thunder were very active in the offseason. However, most of their activity was them getting rid of their star players. The Thunder traded Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets and Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers. Jeremi Grant was also traded to the Nuggets, which meant OKC would have to find a whole new offensive identity The Thunder did bring in Chris Paul in the Russell Westbrook trade with Houston. Overall, the Thunder brought in nine new players this season, and Donovan spoke about the challenge that can bring.

Difficult Month for the Thunder

Billy Donovan spoke about the most difficult stretch of the season for his team. He said it started just after Christmas on December 26th and stretched all the way to January 31st, where they finally able to have more than one day between games. In that stretch, the Thunder went 15-6 despite many injuries. Donovan also talked about how his players responded despite the tough schedule.

Playoff Push

Donovan and the Thunder will look to continue their success in the second half of the season. They currently own the tiebreaker over the Dallas Mavericks for the 6 seed in the Western Conference, but they also have Memphis closing on them from the 8 seed. The Grizzlies are just four and a half games back of the Thunder. However, OKC is just two and a half games back from the 5 seed Houston Rockets. There is still so much basketball left to be played, but Billy Donovan has the Thunder where a lot of people didn’t think he would have them, right in the middle of the playoff race.

 

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