By Michael Kinney
After two days of NBA action, the restart officially begins for the Oklahoma City Thunder today. They will tip-off pretty much where they left off as they take on the Utah Jazz at 2:30 p.m. CT at the Walt Disney Resort in Orlando.
It was the Jazz who was in Oklahoma City March 11 to face the Thunder when the game was canceled due to a player testing positive for the coronavirus. That move set off a chain reaction that ended up putting the entire league on pause for almost five months.
Now the teams are back for an eight game regular season before the postseason beings.
“I mean I’m definitely excited to get playing and get the ball rolling on the real thing. We’ve been waiting for this moment I’ll say for a long time,” Hamidou Diallo said. “It’s been a lot of things going on in the world and I’m just happy we’re being able to play the game that we love.”
Utah comes into the game with already one victory under its belt. They played opening night and came back to beat New Orleans 106-14.
While Oklahoma City has already qualified for the playoffs, they still have a lot to play for going down the stretch. One of those is just getting used to playing and competing with no fans in the building.
“The hardest part, I think, was running out,” said veteran Chris Paul. “It’s one of those things a lot of guys on the team say – ‘bring your own energy’.”
For those who watch the game on TV or online, they will notice the pumped in arena noise coming over the loudspeakers. But even that couldn’t drown out the silence on the court when the players are not talking and communicating.
“One of (Paul’s) greatest strengths is he’s an incredible communicator,” Coach Billy Donovan. “And he’s got a lot of years of experience under his belt and the fact that he continues to talk, I think it gives our other guys confidence to continue to talk. So in this kind of venue, where there is not going to be necessarily a lot of crowd noise, communication is really, really critical.”
The Thunder and Jazz can be seen on Fox Sports Oklahoma or heard on 98.1 FM. Game time is set for 2:30 p.m.
Story & Photo by Michael Kinney/Michael Kinney Media