Thunder In the news: Tweaks required prior to Game 3

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - APRIL 18: Donovan Mitchell
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - APRIL 18: Donovan Mitchell /

As the OKC Thunder prepare for Game 3 there are obvious areas to concentrate on fixing.

It’s normal for the fourth and fifth seeds to offer up the most competitive first round series. Therefore, it’s not a surprise the OKC Thunder and Utah Jazz are tied after two games. Despite that fact however, there are some concerning trends which need to be addressed prior to Game 3.

Stopping the Rook:

First of all, finding someone on the OKC Thunder who can stop the rookie Donovan Mitchell needs to be a specific focus of Billy Donovan. Certainly Paul George could be moved onto the rookie, but then adjustments would need to be made down the line. To put into perspective precisely how solid Mitchell has been, his 55 cumulative points through two playoff games are the highest since Michael Jordan.

Patrick Redford of Deadspin offers more insight noting Mitchell is the lone Jazz member who can create off the bounce and offers versatility in playmaking.

"There’s a well-worn trope that tighter playoff defenses require a one-on-one expert who can get buckets, but in Mitchell and the Jazz’s case, it really is true. Ricky Rubio is not getting to the rim. Rudy Gobert is not going to work 19 feet from the rim. The Jazz’s offense requires that Mitchell go nuts in order for the whole team to thrive."

Big Men an issue:

Also not surprising is the issues the OKC Thunder experienced in the paint. This was particularly true when Steven Adams was relegated to the bench. Donovan either needs to utilize Patrick Patterson or Jerami Grant more or find a way to keep Derrick Favors at bay.

Hoops Habit writer Mason McFee offered a look back at the three keys also citing Favors prowess on the boards.

"Favors isn’t a lock to put up those types of numbers the rest of the series, but his Game 2 performance will force Thunder head coach Billy Donovan to re-evaluate who he puts on Favors next game."

Beyond this season and something TI has clamored for throughout this campaign was additional upfront depth. Favors snatched 16 rebounds in Game 2. Combine that with the 15 Rudy Gobert pulled down and it represents just 15 less than the entire OKC team. For a squad who’ve beasted all season this has to be disconcerting for OKC.

Scoring late:

Arguably the top priority for the OKC Thunder is to fix is their fourth quarter offensive malaise. Scoring a mere 16 points in any single frame is going to be problematic. But, doing it while simultaneously allowing 28 points is a recipe for disaster.

Writer Tom Ley of DeadSpin points specifically at Carmelo Anthony as the main issue.  His assessment hits the mark particularly considering the Thunder are also giving up points based on his porous defense.

"The problem isn’t just that Melo is missing shots, although it definitely is that, but that he’s not doing anything else of note on the court either. George is most often playing lockdown defense on the other team’s best scorer, and Westbrook is caught up in his full-tilt orchestration of the game. Melo, meanwhile, is only tasked with setting himself up for catch-and-shoot threes in the corners and as a trailer in transition."

Next: Round 1 complete series hub article compilation

That’s it for OKC Thunder, In the news for Friday, April 20. Be sure to check in with TI throughout the day. The writing team is working to keep Thunder Nation in the loop and prepared throughout the series.