The OKC Thunder lost game one to the Portland Trail Blazers in Portland 104-99, but there is no reason to panic.
The OKC Thunder played their worst game of the year yesterday, with their superstar forward who was once an MVP candidate, played awful. The supporting cast around the franchise player Russell Westbrook was well below average. The Thunder once trailed by 19. The Blazers two stars lit up the OKC defense and made tough shots, and the man who should have been played off the floor posted 20 points and 18 rebounds.
Yet still, the OKC Thunder still had a chance to steal game one on the road.
The OKC Thunder shot their worst percentage from three and made their lowest number of threes. The team shot a dreadful 15 percent from three and made just five trey balls compared to the Blazers 11.
Damian Lillard nailed five 3-pointers by himself in game one, including a jaw dropping Steph Curry-like shot from the sponsorship logo on the court as his first shot of the night.
I broke down each matchup and pointed out some more outliers in game one, but it is clear the OKC Thunder can only go up from here. Despite playing terribly the margin of victory for Portland who got every break in the contest? Five points.
Yet still, OKC Thunder fans and the National Media are hitting the panic button.
No one predicted a sweep, at best folks predicted OKC Thunder in five, in fact, some went to six or seven before picking the Thunder. Portland had to win a game somehow. They took game one at home, that is not very shocking. Any road teams goal in the playoffs is to just split the first two games. OKC can still do that.
The history behind teams losing game one.
Let’s just take the last few seasons, shall we? The OKC Thunder have been on both sides of this coin.
A year ago, Playoff P put up an incredible performance against the Utah Jazz in Oklahoma City, leading the Thunder to a big game one win. He then faded off the rest of the series as did the OKC Thunder collimating in his atrocious game six performance that allowed the Jazz to take the series.
Now, flashback with me to Billy Donovan’s first year. With Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and a roster primed for a Western Conference finals run. They would eventually get to the Western Conference Finals and blew a 3-1 series lead to the Warriors, but not before facing adversity along the way.
Travel with me to game one of the 2016 second round matchups between the Spurs and Thunder. In San Antonio for game one, the Spurs obliterated the Oklahoma City Thunder. Just destroyed them 124-92. A 32 point beat down.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook scored 16 points and 14 points respectively.
Big man LaMarcus Aldrige posted 38 points in that game one.
The OKC Thunder went on to win the series four games to two, a series that Billy Donovan is still living off of to this day, and a reason why some think he is a great playoff coach.
Stay in that same year, the OKC Thunder beat the Golden State Warriors by five points in game one of the 2016 Western Conference Finals, and we all know how that ended.
This is not unheard of to drop game one. This should not change anyone’s prediction on the game, no matter which side you were on prior to tipoff. Unless you predicted a sweep, your prediction can still come true.
It is not just the OKC Thunder, one quick example was last year, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavilers lost by 18 points to the Pacers in round one game one, but won the series in seven games, and went on to win the Eastern Conference.