Lightning Report: The OKC Thunder couldn’t adapt and the Blazers ate them

Head Coach Billy Donovan OKC Thunder, (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
Head Coach Billy Donovan OKC Thunder, (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKC Thunder (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The OKC Thunder lost to the Portland Trail Blazers because they couldn’t adapt. Something’s gotta give.

The series between the OKC Thunder and the Portland Trailblazers, though decidedly entertaining, wasn’t all that complex. The Blazers’ two best players consistently hit their shots. Aside from stretches here and there, the Thunder’s two best players didn’t. Portland capitalized on the Thunder’s weaknesses and forced OKC into rough spots. OKC didn’t. Portland’s role players hit their three’s and played smart defense. The Thunder’s role players didn’t. There were, of course, more things going on than that but above all else, those are the things that won Portland the series.

From minute one, it just felt like Portland had been in total control of everything. Damian Lillard‘s three from the parking lot to start the first game was the omen:

Even in the last few minutes of that game where the Thunder really had their best shot to steal one on the road and get some momentum, there was an underlying feeling: if the Thunder were going to win, it wasn’t going to be because they won the game as much as it would be because Portland lost it. The Thunder were clearly the more talented team; Portland was better-equipped to win.

Terry Stotts and the Blazers knew that to win this series without Jusuf Nurkic they’d need to seek out any little edge they could find and that’s exactly what they did: they forced Russell Westbrook to shoot at every opportunity, they didn’t defend the three-point line until the Thunder proved they could beat them from there, and they searched out as many open three’s as they possibly could. They adapted.

As has been the problem in OKC for years from top to bottom – which we’ll get into in just a second here – the Thunder couldn’t adapt and it was the reason the Blazers ate them.