Oklahoma City Thunder forward Darius Bazley expressed disappointment with OKC’s season-ending defeat to the Houston Rockets.
When the Houston Rockets faced the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, the Thunder were the overwhelming favorite, for a number of reasons. For starters, the Thunder had the same record as the Rockets, as both teams went 44-28.
But also because the two teams faced off three times during the regular season, and the Chris Paul-led Thunder were victors in the majority of the matches, as they won two of the three contests. Heading into the postseason matchup, many in the national media believed the Rockets lacked the necessary size to eliminate the Thunder, as the Rockets didn’t have anyone in their rotation that stood 6-foot-9 or taller.
The Thunder, on the other hand, boast Steven Adams, who stands 7-feet-tall, in addition to Nerlens Noel and Mike Muscala, which gave credence to the belief that the Rockets were simply too small. The Rockets were also forced to play without Russell Westbrook for the first four games of the series, as the former Oklahoma City Thunder guard suffered a quadriceps injury heading into the postseason.
In spite of the obstacles that lay in the Rockets’ path, they still prevailed, as they defeated the Thunder within seven games, in what was a battle-tested series. On Tuesday, OKC forward Darius Bazley shared his thoughts on the series, during an appearance on ESPN’s The Jump.
“I believe that we should have won that series. I believe that we were the better team; we had it. That was a great group of guys; I loved playing every minute on the floor with them. It sucks, man. I believe we should have won but at the end of the day, I grew, we grew as a team and I learned a lot. I had a lot of first times this year from injuries to starting to the whole playing in the bubble; it was my first playoff series.”
It’s understandable for Bazley to feel as though the Thunder let one get away, as they appeared to steal the momentum in the series. OKC came back from an 0-2 deficit to tie the series 2-2 heading into Game 5. Although the Rockets stole Game 5, in what was Westbrook’s postseason debut with the Rockets, the Thunder made life difficult for the Rockets in Game 6.
With the Rockets on the brink of eliminating the Thunder, OKC stole Game 6, as former Rockets guard Chris Paul scored eight points in the final 3:35 of the game. With the series tied 3-3 heading into Game 7, the Rockets squeaked away with a closeout victory, in spite of James Harden going 4-of-15 from the floor and 1-for-9 from three.
Thunder rookie guard Lugentz Dort provided significant contributions for OKC, as his defense was suffocating for Harden, and he scored a game-high 30 points in Game 7. Bazley and the Thunder are currently in a similar position as the Rockets, as both teams are seeking their next coach, while also attempting to add to the roster, in anticipation for the 2020-21 season, which will be much more difficult with the Golden State Warriors likely returning to relevancy.
Bazley’s Thunder may get another chance at the Rockets in the 2021 postseason, neither team is expected to make significant improvements heading into next season. Maybe then the Thunder will get the chance to avenge their postseason defeat.