OKC Thunder – Utah Jazz Series: Round Table Part 1

Jerami Grant, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, OKC Thunder (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jerami Grant, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, OKC Thunder (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images) /
1 of 4

Thunderous Intentions scribes dive into the OKC Thunder impending first round series, via a round table answering the burning questions.

With the NBA Playoffs tipping off today the team at Thunderous Intentions gathered for a two part round table session. The scribes opine on the impending series and the top line questions fans want answers to heading into the OKC Thunder Game 1, Sunday.

To begin our playoff coverage here’s part 1 of the round table. Enjoy Thunder Nation.

Question 1:

After the playoffs finish the Thunderous Intentions team will revisit the regular season. At that time seasons reviews of each member of the roster and the team performance as a whole will be examined. In the interim, and prior to jumping into the postseason lets take a second to touch on the broad scope look of this past campaign.

The key change occurred via two major trades to add star power via Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. It was understandable change would take time for three isolation heavy players to find their niche. In retrospect, the chemistry experiment took much longer than anticipated. The roller coaster effect seems to be TI”s favorite description of the team given their fluctuations depending on the talent they faced. To that end, as the OK3 prepare for their first playoff series together how confident are you OKC will consistently deliver the ‘A Team’ effort witnessed versus the upper echelon this season?

Austin Sternlicht:

I believe the Thunder will flip the proverbial switch in the playoffs. The entire team knows how critical this postseason is for the future of the franchise. This is a well-disciplined Jazz team that will take advantage of the Thunder’s mistakes. Players like Paul George and Russell Westbrook thrive on the biggest stage. This may be an ugly, grind-it-out series, but the I’m confident the Thunder know what’s at stake, both short and long-term, and will play accordingly.

Wil Harrington:

It is difficult to have much confidence going into any one game. For an entire series however, I believe that the stars can align to create more wins than losses. Carmelo Anthony will have no excuse to not be “Olympic Melo” and Paul George often played his best this season on the biggest stages. I have not seen enough of these things to make me supremely confident though.

Alex Mcewen:

Zero confidence. No one, not fans nor experts can predict what the Thunder are going to do. The team went up and down more than an elevator during the regular season campaign.

Pre All-Star break Oklahoma City was 5-4 against the Rockets, Warriors, Blazers, Raptors, Celtics, and Cavaliers. Post All-Star break the team went 2-6 against the aforementioned six teams.

The Thunder’s cumulative record (7-10) against the top-three teams in each conference. Coupled with Utah being astronomically hot (30-8) since January 19th (the game Rudy Gobert returned from injury). Leaves my confidence level guarded.

Noah Schulte:

Fairly confident. While yes, they’ve failed to consistently bring their maximum effort every night, it’s important to remember two things. One, the Thunder are a veteran team that understands the magnitude of the playoffs and how much effort it takes to win in the postseason. Two, they have some psychopathic competitors, like Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams, on the team willing to do anything to win. They may not play well every game in the playoffs for secondary reasons, but effort likely won’t be one of them.

Stephen Dolan:

This is the most important factor in this series. When the OKC Thunder decide to bring it, it has basically already been brought. The problem is that they can be very selective when it comes to the bringing of ‘it’. OKC are famously 6-3 against the Rockets, Raptors, and Warriors the best such record in the NBA. However, they’re just 8-15 against the other five Western Playoff teams.

OKC don’t beat good teams, as Russ has been fond of saying, the Thunder beat great teams. Will they respect the Jazz as a great team? If not, somebody needs to go wave Jazz’ schedule in front of their faces. Utah are 29 for their last 35. That’s a 68-win pace over the course of a season. This is an opponent that will require OKC’s best shot. Whenever they figure that out, we’ll get it.

Jeremy Lambert:

I’m confident in Russell Westbrook. Paul George provided some hope at the end of the season with strong shooting performances against the Rockets, Heat, and Grizzlies. Carmelo Anthony is a lost cause. George is the difference maker. If he’s not hitting open shots or providing the head shot to Westbrook’s body blows, the team’s ceiling is not the roof. He’s still a valuable player on the defensive end and the threat of George provides Westbrook with extra room. But he needs to be Playoff Paul George for this team to get out of the first round.

Sinjin Snope:

I am cautiously optimistic that the OK3 and the rest of this Thunder squad can bring their “A Game” to the postseason. In the last three games of the regular season I believe we saw glimpses of what this team will be in the playoffs. The focus and level of play was amped up in those three games, so that should encourage fans going forward into the dog-fight that will be the Western Conference Playoffs.

Tamberlyn Richardson:

I’ve said all season long Paul George is a different beast in the postseason. He almost singlehandedly beat LeBron’s Heat, ditto for the Raptors two seasons ago. The concern is how he shot down the stretch and the “wonky’ arm issues he mentioned.  Westbrook showed he’ll dial up the defense when required (see Rockets end game on Harden). Anthony will attempt to channel Olympic Melo. Hey, if they can’t win round one, then it’s hard to imagine George not being more than tempted to leave.

Jordan Buckamneer:

Despite some growing pains throughout the season, the Thunder should be a tough out in the playoffs. Oklahoma City road the roller coaster of a season to several signature wins and experienced just as many embarrassing losses. By the end of it all, we saw the Thunder go from potentially missing the playoffs to clinching the four seed with a must-win game over Houston and a win over Memphis in which Russell Westbrook made history.

What the last two games of the season reassure OKC fans of is that their team finds a way to make things happen. The Thunder go into the first round with a lot of momentum and seemed to have ironed out the rotation issues since the arrival of Corey Brewer to replace Andre Roberson in the starting lineup. With Jerami Grant playing excellent defensively off the bench, along with the Alex Abrines and Terrance Ferguson playing quality minutes, Oklahoma City isn’t going to go down easy.