Monday Bolts: 4.1.19
Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) recaps yesterday’s loss to the Mavericks: “The Dallas Mavericks lived by the three-point shot all afternoon. The Thunder’s comeback died with three missed threes inside the final 20 seconds. Down 104-103 with the shot clock off and a chance at the final possession, the Thunder got a pair of good three-point attempts – the first from Dennis Schröder in the corner and the second from Paul George on the right wing. Both hit iron, the second rebound ended up in Mavericks hands and after two foul shots, and all Russell Westbrook was left with was a three-pointer from just across halfcourt as the Thunder’s only chance to send it to overtime. Westbrook’s shot was on line, but just a couple inches long and the Thunder fell at home to Dallas 106-103.”
Maddie Lee (Oklahoman) with observations from another brutal Thunder loss: “I hope (Mavs coach) Rick (Carlisle) doesn’t mind me saying this,” Donovan said after OKC’s 106-103 loss to Dallas on Sunday, “they were throwing bricks up at the basket to start the game. We were, too. It wasn’t like we were making shots either, but they were throwing – I mean, it was hitting the backboard.” But as Donovan correctly predicted, that wouldn’t last. The Thunder kept every Mavs starter under 20 points, but the second unit gave OKC’s 3-point coverage difficulties. Dallas’ Trey Burke and Devin Harris both came off the bench to shoot 50 percent from beyond the arc and finish the night with 25 and 15 points, respectively. The Dallas bench outscored the OKC bench 57-14.”
Sam Guertler (Mavs Moneyball) recaps the game from the other side: “At this point in the season it’s anyone’s guess which Maverick is going to pop off and lead the way, but this afternoon both Trey Burke and Devin Harris led the charge. Harris had a strong second quarter that helped the Mavericks take a lead at the half. He finished with 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting including 4-of-8 from three. Burke played arguably his best game as a Maverick scoring 25 points and dishing eight assists with zero turnovers. He shot an efficient 10-of-18 from the field (4-of-8 from three) and seemed virtually unguardable at times. Burke has bounced around the league, so these games are supremely important for him. The 31 minutes are the most he’s played with the Mavericks, so good for him to take advantage of the opportunity.”
ESPN has the Thunder 12th in their latest power rankings: “The Thunder have scuffled for the past month and now find themselves battling to stay out of the final playoff spot in the West and a potential first-round matchup with the defending champs. The Thunder play two of their three games this week against teams headed for the lottery, with only a Friday matchup with the Pistons against a team that still has playoff positioning motivation.”
Nick Crain (Forbes) on the rise and fall of the Thunder offense: “In the 36 games the Thunder played in 2018, they had the 10th worst offensive rating in the NBA. During this span, they were the worst 3-point shooting team in the league at 32.2 percent from deep and the third worst team from the free throw line at 70.3 percent. Despite the early offensive struggles, Oklahoma City had a record of 23-13 heading into 2019. In the 21 games from January 1st through the NBA All-Star break, the Thunder offense was clicking on all cylinders, with the 7th best offensive rating in the league. This included the 2nd best 3-point percentage in the league at 40 percent. Over this 21 game stretch, Oklahoma City went 14-7. Since the NBA All-Star break, the Thunder offense has collapsed once again. In the 18 games since, they have the 2nd worst offensive rating in the NBA, shooting a league-worst 42.4 percent from the field, including 33.4 percent from three. This stretch of stagnant offense has resulted in a 7-11 record over this span. Oklahoma City also has the worst free throw shooting percentage since the break, at 70 percent.”
Rob Mahoney (SI) on the regular season wearing down the Thunder: “Some manner of regression was always likely, if only because George had been converting jumpers at a level far beyond even his All-NBA standards. He wears it well; even in his injured form, George scored 89 points over his last three games, securing valuable wins over the Raptors and Pacers. Every win counts for the Thunder. One more will punch their ticket to the playoffs. Another few might get them into the fifth or sixth seed. The clutter of the West standings partly explains how OKC fell so far so fast, but it’s also what might prevent them from properly resting George between now and the end of the season. A single game could decide whether the Thunder end up on the Warriors’ side of the bracket. Then again, maybe planning for multiple playoff rounds presumes too much. In theory, the Thunder are compelling spoilers—two dynamic stars backed by a nasty, physical defense. Yet as Oklahoma City’s schedule has turned harsher in recent weeks, so too has their playoff viability. The architecture of the team remains largely unchanged, but the ceiling shows signs of damage.”
Current Playoff Picture: Bring on the Warriors, I guess.
Around the League: LeBron has been shut down for the season…. Trae Young continues doing awesome stuff…. Kristaps Porzingis is accused of rape in NYC…. For the sixth straight season, more 3-pointers have been made than ever before…. Another 50-point triple-double for James Harden…. Duke is out, so what’s next for Zion Williamson?…. KD and Kyrie are as close as ever.