Coming into the season, I saw a pretty simple formula for the Thunder. For the most part, beat the teams you should, and then hope to steal a few against teams you shouldn’t. When they started 6-1, that template was playing out exactly as intended.
And then it all fell apart. Not only have the Thunder lost seven of their last nine, but some of the teams they’ve lost to — the Magic, the Pistons, the Pacers, the Lakers, and now the Kings — are teams they should’ve beaten. Some of those games have been excruciatingly close with big shots sinking OKC. They could’ve gone OKC’s way… but they didn’t.
For a number of reasons, whether it was a lack of stops, bad rebounding, bad crunchtime offense, or whatever, they’re 0-5 in those. Flip ’em around and the Thunder are 13-3. Of course, that’s unreasonable considering they were outclassed in some of them and they’re not going to just handle business against everybody, especially on back-to-backs and such. But I think you get my point. They’re not beating teams they should. And that’s a bad sign.
This game here tonight, made me realize something: Where have the Thunder improved since opening night? If anything, I see it as more of a regression. Opposing teams are figuring out how to defend the excessively predictable Thunder and once you eliminate a few things, pack the paint, and keep OKC out of transition, you’re going to give them problems.
Where do they go from here? I’m not sure, man. All I could think about watching this one was the missed opportunities from the last few days. Losing to the Pacers in OT. The Nick Young running man 3. Those type of games are the backbreakers. They’re what make a completely understandable loss like tonight’s feel so, so, so much worse.
- I just don’t know what to tell those of you that continue to be completely flabbergasted and dumbfounded at this team having problems. It’s almost like a team completely shaped around two players that then lost one of those two players, a top three player in the world by the way, is gonna have a hard time being as good as they were.
- Most saw a likely area of strength for OKC this season being offensive rebounding. It hasn’t been. Tonight, they had five. There are some reasons for it, namely in that the offense isn’t good enough to break down defenses and create mismatches and spread defenders thin.
- I really just feel bad for Westbrook. He’s trying. He’s trying to carry the team. The help’s just not there right now.
- Big moment tonight: Anthony Morrow hit a 3.
- Here’s the thing about playing Morrow: If he’s not scoring, and not making 3s, what does he then give you? He’s 1-for-11 from 3 this season. I understand maybe he needs more time to find a rhythm and such, but he’s seen more time the last two weeks, and the results aren’t there.
- It cracks me up the tweets I get of people saying, “What are you doing Presti??? MAKE A DEAL NOW.” As if he can just wave a magic wand and say, ” Hmmmm give me Nicolas Batum please.”
- Although, as I’ve been saying since August, the Thunder are going to be dealers this year. I would be absolutely stunned if the roster you see now is the one that finishes the season.
- Abrines looks quite overwhelmed out there.
- The Thunder have to be a top eight defensive team if they want to win consistently. Probably top six. The defense has dropped, and so have the wins. It seems pretty simple to me.
- It sure feels like there needs to be a shake-up rotationally somewhere. I don’t know if bringing Oladipo off the bench is a solution, or maybe starting small with Grant at the 4, or whatever it is, but it’s not working right now. Donovan likes to experiment, but not so much with his starting five.
- Like I said, I don’t see where the Thunder have improved since opening night. Donovan made it a point postgame to mention he feels like he’s seen development and that he’s not that focused on the results. Alrighty.
- Enes Kanter isn’t a fit on this team as presently constructed. Especially on the contract he’s got.
- It’s jarring, because after those wins over the Heat and Wolves, it really felt like the Thunder had an identity. But it’s slowly unraveled over the last couple weeks.
- After the Thunder beat the Rockets, I looked at the schedule and saw an opportunity to put together a good stretch. They had nine games ahead that were all winnable. Something like 7-2 seems reasonable. Whoopsie.
- Which is to say, I thought the Thunder would be better than they are. I don’t mean for it to seem like this isn’t surprising. I figured the Thunder would beat the teams they should with regularity. So there is valid reason to be frustrated and bummed out about how they’re playing,
Next up: At the Nuggets on Friday