The Thunder played a lackadaisical game last night, similar to their energy level and precision that they displayed in the loss to the Cavaliers. I think that this quote by Oklahoman reporter Darnell Mayberry says it best to describe the Thunder's performance last night, a performance that was good enough to win but also poor enough to make them beatable:
I'll remind you of what Kendrick Perkins said at media day in December. "Even if we have a little success where we win five games in a row, we can't get comfortable," Perkins said. "I think that's when teams tend to slack up and take losses that you're not supposed to take. So we can't get bored with the process, and every day we move forward we got to look toward the bigger picture; toward the postseason, toward the Western Conference Finals again and trying to get to the Finals and trying to hang a banner in this gym."
It's a hard thing to do, not get bored with the process. Even in a shortened season, a 66-game schedule is as much of a five-month test of mental fortitude as it is physical. Coming out and competing with the same consistency, no matter the circumstances, whether at home or on the road, against Chicago or Charlotte, takes maturity. Some teams have it. Most don't. The Thunder simply isn't showing that maturity. Not right now at least. And it's not just costing this team wins in the short term. It's slowing the critical developmental phase that ultimately will make it successful in the long term.