Thunder fall apart and fall to the Celtics, 100-85
Playing without Kevin Durant, there’s going to be these types of games. That’s a thing to say to feel mildly better for a few seconds while digesting this loss.
It is a true thing, though, because Kevin Durant is the kind of player that can make lots of shots and score lots of points in the face of terrible offense. Because that would’ve been the requirement in this one, particularly in the second half where the Thunder went from doing good things, to doing very bad things. The second half: 33 points on 10-39 shooting. The fourth quarter, specifically: 11 points on 2-17 shooting. Somehow, it was even worse to watch than to just read the numbers. An those numbers are pretty darn ugly.
“Just missed some shots,” Russell Westbrook half-assedly explained.
The truth of is, he played a pretty bad game. He hit 5-of-20 from the floor, took 10 3s, turned it over four times and only had five assists. Outside of the free throw line, Westbrook took bad shots, went wild at the rim and didn’t consistently involve teammates. The Thunder went from a solid offensive first half, to completely disconnecting in the second, and largely that stemmed from the ball not leaving the hands of certain people enough. Westbrook was guilty. Dion Waiters was guilty. D.J. Augustin was guilty.
“I think one of the things I’ve got to really try and help these guys with and through film and obviously having to play again [Monday], is them having an awareness of different guys that are open,” Billy Donovan said. “That’s something that hopefully as we try and build and get better at those things that they’ll see more often.”
There was definitely a clear contrast in precision between the two teams. The Celtics appeared far more organized, especially offensively, getting into sets with speed and intensity, while the Thunder did quite a bit of standing around and waiting.
This was one of those games where you could almost sense the meltdown coming. The Thunder led by six and eight and nine in the third quarter, but never could extend on that lead, missing a number of opportunities to do so. Once the Celtics trimmed it to four, then two, then tied it, it was only a matter of time. The Thunder had already begun the implosion, and it was just a question of if the Celtics were going to make their shots.
And once they did, the rout was pretty much on, especially without that Durant guy to stop the momentum all on his own and get things settled again. (He kind of has a knack for that.) It was a disconcerting performance, or really, a disconcerting second half because simply put, the Thunder played a pretty selfish, lackluster 24 minutes. And it got them beat pretty handily.
That’s 10 games in with Donovan. They’re 6-4. There have been some good things. And some not good things. It’s far, far too early to start draw significant conclusions, but I will say this: I definitely didn’t like what I saw on Sunday.
- The Thunder had been very good with the ball the past couple weeks, but the turnovers jumped up and got them again tonight. Some of just the very careless variety.
- Just six first half minutes for Enes Kanter and only 19 overall. Not that he was some kind of key to unlocking something better, but he was ineffective while at the same time underused, primarily when he was in the game.
- Kyle Singler hit two 3s while everyone was watching Patriots-Giants. Then literally as that game ended and everyone flipped over to the OKC game, he turned it over twice. Dude just can’t.
- Westbrook came out of the blocks firing from 3. He took five 3s in the first six minutes, four of them early in the clock.
- The Celtics are scrappy and tough. They play some clever lineups and keep you guessing a lot. The Thunder just never seemed to be able to find a combination that was comfortable.
- Evan Turner is sneaky fat.
- Waiters played his worst game of the season, without question. He’s had shooting nights like this before where I came away thinking he actually played OK. But I thought he upset the rhythm of the offense throughout the game, defended very poorly, and was too focused on going at Smart and Bradley. That was the Dion Waiters that has garnered a bad reputation throughout the league.
- Steven Adams didn’t take a shot. I think he’s got to be a more influential player in the pick-and-roll. What happened to Westbrook finding him?
- You can look at Anthony Morrow being a +7 and think he did something decent despite being 0-4 in 15 minutes. He didn’t. He just had the good fortune of not being on the floor when the offense died in the fourth quarter.
- To me, this felt like the kind of game for Mitch McGary to do a few things in. The Celtics shuffled in a lot of different bigs and I think McGary wouldn’t have given up much defensively.
- One guy that played well: Serge Ibaka. Nothing wrong with him tonight.
- Westbrook was asked postgame about Marcus Smart and if he’s one of the few guys that can physically match him. It went as well as you might assume.
- A point I forgot to make so I’m updating: Like a lot of people, I think very highly of Brad Stevens and while I’m not one all that consumed by game-to-game coaching battles, I couldn’t help but come away from this one feeling like he influenced it far more than Donovan did. From lineup adjustments to defensive curveballs, to just overall feel and flow, I got the sense the Celtics reflected their coach far better than the Thunder did tonight.
Next up: Thunder at Memphis on Monday