What an awful collapse.
This collapse was the worst we've seen this season. It was long, drawn out, and painful to watch. I had to look away at times, because the Thunder's offense was just too much to bear. Let me be clear in my analysis of this collapse. We didn't lose this game because we were inept defensively. Heck, I'd say holding the Grizzlies to 101 points in regulation would be an acceptable amount. But holding them to 101 points through overtime? That's more than enough to win with.
The problem was the offense. We scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, and 7 in overtime. That's 17 Points in 18 minutes of basketball. I'm no statistical expert, but if you're not even scoring a point a minute, then your offense is in serious trouble. As always, the Thunder were far too reliant on Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. They ran so many bad plays for those two that I was simply ecstatic when someone else got the opportunity to score. Westbrook was busy being Westbrook, hogging the ball a bit too much and trying to take on three men in the paint. Durant was simply smothered by Allen all game, never given the opportunity for an open shot. Often, defenders would switch, or he'd simply get double-teamed.
Below: How the Offense Worked Early On, Playing the Blame Game, Complimenting Collison and Our Defense, Awards!
This offense worked alright through the first three quarters, though. Durant And Westbrook are NBA All-Stars, after all. Westbrook found ways to get to the line, and Durant sunk a few shots. At times, Harden would get into the action while doing the same thing as Westbrook, and Ibaka would get some hard-fought tip buckets. But when it came down to crunch time, it was all Durant and Westbrook. In the last 8:55 of the fourth quarter, Durant and Westbrook took every single shot in the fourth quarter aside from a end-of-shot clock desperation three from Sefolosha and a Perkins tip. Doesn't that offense look a little bit predictable? Not one single play was run for Harden, Ibaka, Perkins, or Sefolosha. Not one single play. I understand that it's crunch time, but if you don't mix things up a bit, your mixture becomes concrete, and nothing gets done.
The blame for this offensive disaster goes to many people. Obviously, Coach Brooks could have emphasized to Westbrook that the Thunder could have thrown some more offensive plays into the mix. But you also have to blame Durant and Westbrook for being so ice-cold and thick-headed. Usually, these guys can play through the bad offense and simply force points. Both had four points in the fourth, but Durant went totally scoreless after the 7:43 mark, and neither scored in overtime despite being given numerous opportunities. Just one more basket in the fourth could have had us running away with a win. Think about that.
Though this was a terrible game, I have to congratulate Nick Collison on his great overtime play. He came into the game and made an immediate impact, getting an easy backdoor cut and contributing to Ibaka's tip shot near the rim. Honestly, his smart style of play is exactly what the Thunder needed.
I also have to compliment the defense of the Thunder once more. It wasn't a complete shut down of the Grizzlies like in Game 2, but when the Thunder's offense was sputtering, the defense basically created points through the errors of the Grizzlies, and stagnated the score when the Grizzlies went on a run. Even in the fourth, the Grizzlies had to fight for every point after their initial run. The Grizz had to get nearly a third of their points from the line (where they only shot 68.2%) and they only shot 37.8% from the field. They also did a decent job of containing Randolph and Gasol, and they forced a good number of turnovers with their traps. As I said, on a normal day, this would have been enough to win the game. An offensive problem is a lot easier to fix than a defensive one though, so I think the Thunder are truly lucky to be in this position. All in all, the Thunder just need to play smarter offense and do things like get out in transition, utilize their non-stars, and stop running the same plays over and over again that simply aren't working.
Thunder Wonder: Serge Ibaka, 14 Points, 8 Rebounds, 6 Blocks
Thunder Down Under: Thabo Sefolosha, for his +12 +/- Rating.
Thunder Blunder: Durant and Westbrook, for the end of game offensive collapse.
Thunder Plunderer: Zach Randolph, 21 Points, 21 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 1 Block.
Next Game: Game 4 At the Memphis Grizzlies, Monday, May 8th, 8:30 PM Central Daylight Time.