For the first time this season the Oklahoma City Thunder have dropped three games in a row, most recently losing last night in Indiana 103-98.
This three-game losing streak has come right after a six-game winning streak by the Thunder where they looked to be playing the best basketball they have all season.
It’s not hard to see where the Thunder are going wrong in the last three games. The problems they have had before, that seemed to be gone during their previous winning streak, have resurrected and been the cause of the three losses.
First off, Oklahoma City has played Memphis, Miami and Indiana in their last three games. Those teams are all top ten in the league in defensive efficiency so it’s not like the Thunder were playing games against really inferior opponents.
Oklahoma City leads the NBA in offensive efficiency this season and is averaging 102.9 points per game. In the three losses they averaged just 93.0 points per game, about 10 less per game. This is obviously a huge drop off.
Where were the Thunder losing scoring?
Not Kevin Durant. Durant scored 44 points last night in the Thunder’s loss to Indiana, the second most points he’s scored in a game this season. Over the last three games, Durant averaged 31.7 points per game and shot 52.3 percent from the field. He wasn’t perfect however as he did turn the ball over nine times in the loss in Miami.
Russell Westbrook is the easy one to point the blame at. He has averaged 22.7 points per game over the last three but is shooting 32.3 percent from the field and only had 12 total assists in those games. Westbrook was just coming off a great month of March where he was scoring 26.6 points per game and shooting 49.2 percent from the field.
James Harden’s drop in production may have been just as significant as Westbrook’s struggles. Harden has scored just 12.0 points per game over the last three games and seemed noticeably less aggressive.
The Thunder Big Three averages 69.0 points per game this season and over the three-game losing streak was only scoring 66.4 points per game. That’s only a three point differential so it wasn’t just the struggles of Westbrook and Harden that accounted for their drop in offensive production.
Other than the Big Three for Oklahoma City, the other players average 33.9 points per game on the season. They averaged just 26.6 per game over the last three and scored just 23 points in each of the last two games on the road.
The Thunder role players always play slightly worse on the road as do most teams’. The Thunder rely more on their role players than most people may think though. When playing some of the tougher teams in the NBA it is evident that they need more than just their Big Three to win games and look like one of the best teams in the league.
Most importantly is the playmaking of Westbrook and Harden. The two averaged together less than nine assists per game over the last three and have the ball in their hands more than any Thunder players. That number needs to be much higher and is closer to 15 when the Thunder are at their best.
There is still three weeks left in the season and plenty of time for the Thunder to get their act together before the playoffs. They are now only half a game ahead of San Antonio for the one-seed in the Western Conference but do have a slightly easier schedule the rest of the way.
Often the perfect medicine for curing a three-game losing streak is playing the Toronto Raptors on your home floor. The Thunder get to do that tomorrow at 7 p.m. EST.