Thunder Notebook: Tuesday, April 24
Westbrook’s Near Suspension
Thunder fans were apparently close to more bad news, as Russell Westbrook was nearly suspended (allegedly) for Wednesday’s Game 5 after leaving the sideline during an on-court scuffle between Raymond Felton and Rudy Gobert in the fourth quarter of Game 4.
Per Dan Feldman of CBS Sports:
“The Thunder star was waiting to check into Oklahoma City’s Game 4 loss to the Jazz when Raymond Felton fouled Rudy Gobert, um, unpleasantly. Gobert and Felton got into it, though not immediately. Once they did, Westbrook walked onto the court, and he and Gobert swiped at each other.”
A replay of the incident:
However, the story ends well for the Thunder. In lieu of a suspension, Westbrook was fined $10,000 and issued a Technical foul for his part in the drama. Crisis averted. Game 5 will not be “The Raymond Felton Game.”
With that potential dilemma in the rearview, Westbrook must now focus on a lack of effectiveness that is sinking the Thunder’s battleship. He’s averaging 21.3 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 8.3 assists through four games, although he’s shooting just 36.7 percent from the floor and 21.4 percent from long range. What’s more, he’s combined to score 2 points in the fourth quarters of games three and four, and, per Stat Muse, has the lowest eFG (38.6%) and plus-minus (-45) among all players with 30 postseason field goal attempts.
I’m going to give you Carmelo Anthony’s statistics through four games of the first round — just promise me you’ll sit down first.
14.3 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 37.3 FG%, 23.1 3P%, -33
Making matters worse, OKC’s offensive rating with him on the floor is 99.6. With him off, the rating jumps to 122.5. Take that for data.
After the Game 4 loss, Melo continued to say the right things, saying, “We just gotta win. We can sit here and say what we gotta do and what we didn’t do and what we did do, but it comes down to having the will to win that game on Wednesday and forcing a Game 6 back here in Utah.”
Look… I like Melo. I really do. And to be honest, I feel bad for the guy. However, Olympic Melo ain’t walking through that door. Hoodie Melo never made a tremendous amount of sense. The Thunder is dead in the water unless he improves, which doesn’t seem very probable at this point. This series isn’t on him but he’s going to be a lightning rod all summer long — especially when he opts-in to that $28 million 2018-19 pay day.
Area 21 Thunder/Jazz Discussion
Gary Payton, Candace Parker, and Kevin Garnett discuss the Thunder/Jazz series on tonight’s NBA on TNT broadcast. It’s kind of cool to know Russ is Payton’s favorite player…that’s about where the positives end.
Game 5 Shirts
The Thunder unveiled the shirts that will be given away at Game 5. We’ve apparently all agreed to do the very least we can in this series.
Not spectacular — but, if we’re being fair, these are far from the worst we’ve seen. I’d also like to admit that complaining about the design of a free t-shirt is the definition of a first-world problem.