Paul George's injury gives Billy Donovan the opportunity to experiment


A wingless team has just lost the best basketball wing, at least for one night. The Thunder will face the 76ers Thursday night without Paul George.

Little sympathy will come from Philadelphia because the Sixers will not have center stars Joel Embiid, who has not played since the All-Star game due to tendonitis. And the Sixers will also not have help center Boban Marganovic, knee injured earlier this week.

So, the Sixers are terribly lean in the center, the Thunder on the wing.

Tuesday night in Denver, the Thunder used only one support wing, Abdel Nader, and him for less than eight minutes. Billy Donovan accompanied Dennis Schroder, his replacement, in queues including battle leaders Russell Westbrook and Raymond Felton, which Donovan will likely do again.

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But it is also a chance for Donovan to give another chance to Hamidou Diallo. Diallo has only played in five of the Thunder's previous 14 games, for a total of 32:47. He scored 15 points on 6 out of 10 shots during that period, but Diallo had seemed lost in defense when he was in the rotation.

And in the rotation, Diallo was. Diallo played in 40 of the Thunder's first 46 games, averaging 12.0 minutes and 4.4 points per game. He shot 45.7% of the field (but only four of the 23 3 points).

Interestingly, Diallo did not attempt to add a three-pointer since he left the rotation. It may be a good sign, he learns the selection of moves and the right decisions.

The loss of George will clearly mean more minutes for Nader and Felton and maybe even Deonte Burton, who had some good times while playing on a two-man contract. But maybe that will mean more minutes for Diallo.

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