Thunder moves Josh Giddey to bench for Game 5

THE Thunder changed his starting lineup Wednesday night, benching Josh Giddey in favor of Isaiah Joe to optimize floor spacing for Game 5 of their semifinal matchup against Dallas, writes Justin Martinez of The Oklahoman. The series is currently tied at two games apiece.

The No. 6 pick in the 2021 draft, Giddey had started all 218 games – including the playoffs – of his three-year career before Wednesday.

As The Oklahoman’s Joel Lorenzi wrote late last week, Giddey struggled mightily in the first two games of the series and saw his role significantly reduced — it continued as it went on as the series unfolded. Through four games, the 21-year-old is averaging 6.0 PPG, 2.3 RPG and 1.3 APG in just 13.3 MPG, posting a shooting line of .385/.182/1.000. The team is minus-22 in its 53 minutes on the field.

In 80 regular season games in 2023/24, Giddey averaged 12.3 PPG, 6.4 RPG and 4.8 APG on .475/.337/.806 shooting at 25.1 MPG.

The Mavericks dared Giddey to shoot throughout the series, playing so far away from him that it clogged passing lanes and made life difficult for his teammates. The Australian also struggled at the other end of the pitch, Lorenzi added.

Still Coach of the Year Marc Daigneault called Giddey was a “very important part” of the team’s present and future.

What I’ve seen is three years of Josh Giddey, and he’s a very good player and a very important player for our team.“, Daigneault said, according to Lorenzi. “In Game 4 New Orleans, I don’t know if we’ll close out this series if he doesn’t make any shots in the fourth quarter. These matches are high stakes, they are obviously emotional. But I think it’s important for every player – good or bad – to zoom out and see the bigger picture. And the big picture is that he’s been a very productive player for a long time. He is 21 years old. He will be a very productive player for a long time.”

Giddey will be eligible for a rookie-level extension this offseason.

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