Monday Bolts – 3.14.16
Patrick Redford of Deadspin: “I don’t know if the Thunder have the bench to truly make a
run at Golden State or San Antonio in a seven game series, but I think that possibility isn’t quite as distant as it seems. Their best chance to spring an upset might be to embrace their flawed identity, and try to win through the sheer brute force of Westbrook and Durant’s talents. Running that all-scoring lineup might be a disaster defensively, but if they can score with that kind of efficiency for any extended period of time, it’ll be hard for most opponents to keep up, no matter who Kanter and Waiters have to guard. That might not be the most rational solution, but it’d be the least invasive method given how much they already lean on their two superstars.”
Anthony Slater: “For long stretches, the Thunder played some of its better defense of the past few months. But in an arena where the Spurs haven’t lost this season, near perfection is required. And OKC didn’t get it. Too many costly defensive lapses, too many turnovers (again), too many wide-open misses and, down the stretch, too much Kawhi Leonard. The result: OKC’s eighth loss in 12 games, an unprecedented slump for a franchise used to winning when its major players are healthy. Is there cause for concern?”
Erik Horne: “The Thunder hit just 6-of-27 (22 percent), including three key misses in a row from 3 during a 7-0 run for Minnesota in the fourth quarter. The Thunder led 87-79 before the misses on three consecutive possessions from Russell Westbrook, Kyle Singler and Kevin Durant. Westbrook, who’s been awful from 3-point range this season, actually had one of his better nights of late (3-of-6), but missed his last three attempts. The bench combo of Singler, Randy Foye and Anthony Morrow combined to shoot just 1-of-14 from 3.”
What I wrote after the Spurs game.
NBA.com has OKC seventh: “Another big first quarter propelled the Thunder to an important win over the Clippers on Wednesday. But two more fourth-quarter collapses in Minnesota and against the Spurs dropped them to 4-8 since the All-Star break, having been outscored by 23.4 points per 100 possessions in final period. Russell Westbrook has shot 29 percent in those fourth quarters and hurt his team with a brutal defensive mistake on Saturday.”
Daily Thunder tournament challenge. Get it right here.