May 5, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) reacts to a call in action against the Los Angeles Clippers during the third quarter in game one of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Same issues haunt Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1

A new opponent, a new series – same flaws and issues.

The Oklahoma City Thunder were comprehensively beaten by the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semi Finals on the back of an extraordinary game from Chris Paul, and also some familiar demons from the Thunder’s point of view.

Slow starts, poor shooting, turnovers and the inability to defend the three point shot were all frustrating short comings throughout the regular season and also the first round of the playoffs. While the Thunder would eventually deal with the Memphis Grizzlies and move on to the second round, it looks like they have brought the same baggage with them.

Chris Paul put in a sensational performance. He shot the ball at an amazingly high rate, got the Clippers into the flow of their offence and also locked things down defensively. The Clippers as a unit worked well together, spacing the floor, moving the ball, forcing turnovers and shooting the lights out. Take nothing away from them – they won the battle of Game 1, but the Thunder can take heart in the fact that it likely won’t happen again, and OKC have plenty of room for improvement.

The Thunder were unable to find a way to stop the Clippers point guard and he was largely the difference in the game. With that being said, the Thunder will go to the tape and have a look at the game in parts to see where they can break down and attack the Clippers and gain some advantage of their own. After all, there is still a long way to go in this series and it was never going to be easy.

During “garbage time”, Scott Brooks put Perry Jones III and Jeremy Lamb into the game. While they were also matched up against the deep end of the Clippers bench, a number of positive signs could be seen. Ball movement, outside shooting and the length of the duo, gave the Thunder a different look. With Brooks showing in the last series that he can make the necessary adjustments, we might see more of these two in Game 2.

For the most part though, the Thunder are going to need to do what they do best – bounce back. They will want to level the series and then focus on stealing a game from the Clippers in Los Angeles before returning home. In order to do that, they will need to address the very same issues they were able to overcome in the first round.

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