After an ugly loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder were looking to come into Sunday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers with a big win on ABC's first national showcase game of the season. Unfortunately they fell apart as the game went along and fell to the Cavs, 108-98.
What is your initial reaction to todays's result?
The dual between the last two league MVP's did not disappoint. Kevin Durant was the second leading scorer for the game with 32 points and LeBron James had 34 points. Sadly, James did not guard Durant for most of the game. That responsibility was mostly handed to J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. Both gentlemen held Durant in check early (2-8 shooting), but then Durant turned it on over the last three quarters and only him taking bad shots was the way to stop him. When guarding LeBron he did a pretty decent job in the few chances he had as well.
The Thunder also looked disjointed at times. Reggie Jackson doesn't look right and his minutes should probably be cut back a bit, Dion Waiters forced a lot of shots today, Serge Ibaka played way too far from the hoop on the offensive end all game, leaving Kendrick Perkins to be the sole person to rebound offensively most of the game, eliminating a lot of chances at second chance points, Nick Collison was basically useless, but at least Anthony Morrow hit a three pointer.
What was, overall, the main reason why the Thunder lost?
The defensive rotations late in the game were horrendous. It left the Cavaliers wide open for numerous three point shots that they ultimately made. The main culprit of this was Russell Westbrook. He allowed himself to get pinned on multiple high screens, rather than fight through the screen he gambled unsuccessfully on for a steal numerous times, which lead to a wide-open three pointer.
I'm going to point to Westbrook once again on this. Yes he scored 22 points and had 11 assists, but there 16 possessions in which he did not pass one time by my count. He was 1-14 shooting on those possessions, with two turnovers, three air balls, 3-4 on free throws, 0-4 on layup/dunk attempts.
In close games that has to be looked at, especially when the current league MVP is hot from the floor.
Five fourth quarter turnovers does not help either.
Thunder Wonder: Can't go wrong with the MVP here, 32 points, 9 assists and six boards with just a single turnover.
Thunder Down Under: Kendrick Perkins played some nice physical defense all game long. He crushed J.R. Smith on a screen near the end of the first half.
Thunder Blunder: Serge Ibaka taking nine three pointers. He was missing badly, had an athletic advantage in the paint, scored easily there and just did not take advantage. That could also be on Scott Brooks for not pointing it out.
Thunder Plunderer: LeBron James. See his stats from above.
Next game: Home against the Minnesota Timberwolves at 7PM CST.