One loss doesn’t mean the OKC Thunder’s season is over. It does show, however, how little their margin of error is.
Don’t panic. It’s one loss in a seven-game series, a loss where the OKC Thunder had no business even competing in the final few minutes. That being said, it’s never a great sign when a Playoff team plays as if it was just another regular season game.
Sloppy turnovers, forced shots and missed defensive rotations was the story for the Thunder last night. The fact they were within a couple of possessions from pulling out a victory leaves me still somewhat optimistic about this series. That, plus the fact Oklahoma City’s All-Stars combined for 2 points in the fourth quarter, tells me OKC is still in control of this series.
Thunder’s stars must be better in the fourth quarter
This goes without saying, but it still should be addressed. How many times is this going to happen the rest of the Playoffs? Zero. Nada. Zilch. Both Westbrook and PG struggled to find a rhythm all game, while Melo simply couldn’t find the bottom of the net in multiple clutch situations. Russ has to do a better job of feeding PG in these moments, but it’s still a great sign to see him look for his talented teammates instead of taking matters into his own hands.
Instead, after combining for 52 points on a modest 43 percent clip in the first three periods, neither Russell Westbrook nor Paul George nor Carmelo Anthony recorded a field goal in the fourth quarter. They shot 0-of-14 combined from the floor in the final period as the Thunder were outscored 28-16 in the fourth.
Steven Adams’ light shines through
This one shouldn’t surprise anybody. The Big Kiwi is the most physical center in the NBA, but he perfectly toes the proverbial physical-dirty line. I just wanted to give the big guy a shoutout for the much-deserved nomination. The side benefit is that it takes us away from thinking about last night for a few minutes.
Battle of the backcourts might determine this series
I don’t want to bring you back to last night after celebrating Adams, so instead we’re going to encompass the series as a whole. TI’s talented writer Wil Harrington takes a look at the Westbrook-Brewer/Rubio-Mitchell lineup and how the winner likely will determine the series. Rubio and Mitchell won last night, Westbrook and Brewer won on Sunday.
Wil’s analysis seems pretty legit to me.
For the OKC Thunder: a wild-eyed ball of veteran energy and a historic MVP candidate. For the Utah Jazz, a smooth-passing Spaniard and ROY hopeful with poise beyond his years.
That’s it for today’s issue of Thunder in the News! We’ve got more content for you over at our homepage, including a look at how Antonio Daniels may have finally changed Colin Cowherd’s opinion of Russell Westbrook. Want legit basketball analysis? I’ve got a handy-dandy report card that dives deep into what happened in last night’s game. Enjoy!