Thunder coach addresses Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's struggles ahead of Game 4

Dallas Mavericks v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Two
Dallas Mavericks v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Two / Joshua Gateley/GettyImages

OKC Thunder superstar Shai Gilgeous-Alexander may have been a legitimate MVP candidate in 2023-24, but, during his latest showing in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals, it was clear that he was producing a bit shy of his normal rate.

While this may be a perplexing sentiment for some to read when considering he finished Saturday's bout against the Mavericks with 31 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, and a whopping 5 blocks, for those who watched the contest, his vanishing act during the pivotal fourth quarter would go on to leave a bad taste and, in turn, it ultimately played a major role in Dallas taking a 2-1 series edge.

Crunch time is generally when Gilgeous-Alexander has proven to be at his best for the Thunder, as he's hit countless clutch buckets and turned the club's fate around on numerous occasions throughout the season with his sensational offensive displays.

Unfortunately, during OKC's last showing, this did not prove to be the case for the star guard as he would shoot just 1-of-6 during the final period while coughing up three turnovers and committing three personals en route to their 105-101 loss.

Though there may be some who are worrying about his physical state heading into Monday's Game 4, with many voicing their concerns regarding possible fatigue, during a recently held media session coach Mark Daigneault would downplay any such fears, highlighting the fact that SGA and the entirety of this Thunder team has prepared all year to take on heavy workloads.

Thunder coach downplays recent struggles of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

"He's a world-class athlete. He's in great shape and all season we've managed the whole team to be able to play long minutes if necessary at this time of year. We're not saving anything for tomorrow, you know, we're trying to go out there and win every game. That's the time of year we're in so he can rise to that."

Mark Daigneault

From pull-up jumpers being flung early in the shot clock to lazy handling on drives leading to turnovers, it was evident that Gilgeous-Alexander was not in the same headspace that he had been in during the initial three-quarters of play or, frankly, during the two previous contests while the game was on the line.

Hopefully in Game 4, the Thunder cornerstone will display a more rested and overall controlled version of himself in their efforts to steal one on the road and head back to Oklahoma City tied up at 2-2.

Coach Daigneault seems confident that SGA will be able to bounce back and find his groove. In turn, so should Thunder fans.