Thunder's regression in major statistical category sheds light on 3-2 deficit vs Mavs

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

The OKC Thunder are now down 3-2 and face elimination in Game 6 this Saturday. Why do they find themselves in this uncomfortable situation?

Well, simply put, Oklahoma City’s shooting woes are a major contributor to the issue. 

Thunder have struggled mightily with their long-range shooting

The Thunder led the NBA during the regular season in three-point efficiency while shooting 38.9 percent However, they have plummeted to just 32.7 percent in this series against the Mavericks.

OKC's drive-and-kick offense relies on their ability to knock down jump shots from behind the arc, so their struggles are severely hindering the offense. 

As a result, Dallas is holding them to a mere 109.9 points per 100 possessions. For context, the Thunder averaged 118.3 points per 100 possessions during the regular season, which was the third-best mark in the association. 

Part of the issue has to do with shot quality.

They are producing about five fewer wide-open three-point attempts per 100 possessions against the Mavericks compared to the regular season. Dallas is doing an excellent job of closing out and creating brief moments of hesitation, thus taking OKC’s shooters out of rhythm. 

The Thunder are simply missing shots too. For example, Oklahoma City is 19 for 81 on triples that are not classified as wide open –- that’s a horrendous 23 percent conversion rate. 

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been brilliant this series and has posted averages to the tune of 31.9 points, 9.0 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 1.4 steals, and 2.4 blocks per game.

If OKC’s supplementary pieces start to regress to the mean in terms of efficiency, then they definitely still have a chance to win two in a row and advance to the Western Conference Finals.

Of course, it all comes down to how they produce Saturday night in a do-or-die Game 6.