The Thunder were downright embarrassed in their fifth game of the season, falling to the rival Warriors on the road. The Warriors blew the game open with a KD-fueled run in the second quarter, and the Thunder only let it spiral more out of control from there. Westbrook looked frustrated, and everyone else looked tired. The Thunder, as currently composed, will have to put in a tremendous performance to pull even with the Warriors moving forward. The TNT telecast didn’t do OKC fans any favors, as former Warrior Chris Webber spouted out a bunch of Golden State propaganda.
There was some excellent talk of the game among WTLC writers in the email thread this morning. Here’s how everyone’s dealing with the loss.
Any thoughts on this game?
Gotta say that the most troubling part was not the "small-market" crowd ooh-ing and ahh-ing over behind the back dribbles or the KD stuff, but rather the ease with which the Warriors erased any and all offensive sets the Thunder wanted to run.
Without the first 10 minutes of lights out shooting in the first quarter, that game is really, really bad from an offensive standpoint for the Thunder. Can't worry about KD draining 30 footers against the second unit, but I think the fact that OKC's offensive troubles are somewhat unfixable could make for some long nights this year.
Sabonis has proven to be a useful outlet already, but it's also at least somewhat alarming that he is already going through spells of Serge-ian perimeter floating. That's not on him - I'm just worried about his role in the offense. He is a fit as a stretch 4, but he seems to have so much more potential than that.
Oh well - if you told me before Wednesday night that OKC would split these two games, I'd have been thrilled. Quite honestly, I'm glad the one we got was against the Clippers. While beating GSW at home would've been ridiculously satisfying, in no reality could it have been seen as an actual statement or as a sign of things to come. GSW is way, way better than the Thunder.
Alternatively, the Clippers could be seen as an actual relative equal in the West - a team OKC could be fighting with for playoff positioning. Taking a game from them in LA was huge.
4-1 isn't bad, especially if they can get back on track on Saturday. The bottom line is this: is there any doubt at all that the 14-15 Thunder drop at least 2 of those first 4 close games?
Last night was excruciating to watch, but the Thunder look ahead of schedule.
I think what the game said to me was, "Ok, now there is no remaining doubt that OKC is a level below the true contenders." We could flirt with it for a while, but the degree of separation is incredibly stark, that there are only 3 teams that occupy that air space now, if you include the Spurs.
Kerr did something pretty sneaky. He rested KD early and then when the OKC reserves came in, reinserted Durant. I think it had the two-fold effect of helping KD get his offense started as easily as possible to avoid any anxiety, and on the defensive end KD's weak-side trapping on Kanter essentially removed OKC's best bench player from the rest of the game.
Someone tweeted out I think; the rest of the Thunder team, sans Westbrook, appeared far more ill at ease watching KD torch them, and they played like it too. And by the end of the 1st quarter, OKC already looked winded. Once their only true advantage - rebounding - slipped, it was curtains.
All that said, I do think Donovan played a little rope-a-dope with them. He knew that it took a lot out of them to beat the Clips the night before, so unless GS came in completely flat, a loss would be more than likely. They ran some great offense in the 1st quarter, really looked like they knew how to control things from a few angles, and then Donovan kind of ceded the rest of the game, at least from a competitive standpoint. It was a very Pop-ish move, but a smart one. Bobby pointed it out - it was almost as if Donovan was refusing to allow Robes, the one guy who can guard KD, from guarding KD the rest of the way. As to say, let them have their "KD is all ours!" night, take away some positives (Sabonis, Joffrey, Dipo) and move on. I'm sure he told his team something to the like of their two teams are on two completely different trajectories, no need to suffer it unnecessarily.
Yeah, doesn't really move the needle other than the subjective misery part. It was a pretty similar loss to Portland's, who got blown out of a close game at home against the Warriors. OKC's playoff seeding range is still TBD, and the long term roster goals are maybe 5% realized this far into the season.
Very good points, especially the last paragraph. I think C.J. McCollum tweeted during the game that it was "sick" of the NBA to put this game on the second night of a back to back for OKC. In reality, might have been a huge favor, psychologically-speaking.
Also, I forgot about King Joffrey. Barring a trade, have to like OKC's big man rotation right now. Can play a lot of different games with various combos. Kanter and Joffrey will absolutely toy with a lot of second units this year.
Side note: flipped between TNF and Kings/Magic before the Thunder game and I hope to god the Rudy Gay stuff doesn't happen. I was looking for any silver lining - any part of his game where I might say "I forgot that he does that from time to time - could be a nice fit for OKC." There was nothing, especially nothing worth conceding an asset for.
Yeah, I don't get the Rudy Gay thing. He's a proven commodity. He's way overpriced and has really never delivered on any consistent level. That would seem the antithesis of what OKC needs.
A Gay trade for anything but scraps only makes sense if the franchise is very paranoid about the fan base dissolving if they go 1-2 seasons without making the playoffs. He's only going to help them stay mediocre.
My biggest takeaway is that Alejandro let me down big. I will be sulking until Sunday.
Hmm.... about last night....
I have a few thoughts.
1. OKC is not a title contender this year as I said earlier in our round table discussions.
2. Victor Oladipo will not finish this season on this roster.
3. I'm sad.
I, on the other hand, am not sad. I believe that moving forward OKC got a lot out of this game. Watching KD torch the bench told me that Durant is going to play a secondary role on this Warrior team. Everything is still built around Curry and Klay, and those are the guys who will always have playing priority. KD, unwilling to fit in the system, has been reduced to the role of a Jamal Crawford off the bench. Excellent offense, and certainly the leader on the floor. But when push comes to shove, his role is much smaller there than it was in OKC. And OKC has had a pretty good shot of winning it all over the years.
So this game really confirmed to me that KD’s departure is a good thing. Across the board, KD’s numbers are efficient. But that’s because KD is a tremendous basketball player. Those who watch KD on the court know that he makes things hard for himself on offense. KD walks into offensive sets, and doesn’t get the ball in good position. KD is insistent on consistently putting the ball on the floor, despite being tall enough to play center. And worst of all, KD will refuse to pass out of double-team situations because he thinks he has a shot. We all saw it as justifiable back in the day because the Thunder didn’t have many shooters. But on Golden State, KD will have to change his ways or find himself as the permanent second banana.
Personally, I’m just glad KD isn’t our problem anymore. After the awful rolling stone column about how KD just couldn’t get a handle on OKC’s life, things were bad enough. But then KD literally lost it, holding an open workout and shouting to no one. Having seen the first few Warrior games from afar, it’s clear that there’s a very different atmosphere in Golden State. Last year, the team was all about laughing and having fun. This year’s team appears to be doing a job, and they never looked happy doing it until they beat the Thunder last night.
Things could change in Golden State, but most of the Thunder players appear to be having the time of their lives right now. However competitive we might be, as least this is still a group of guys that is fun to watch.
After all, why didn’t you just do this for us in the playoffs last year, KD? (thanks for letting us vicariously heckle through you, Enes!)
Thunder Wonder: Russell Westbrook, for the solid first quarter
Thunder Down Under: Domatas Sabonis, who looks better and better every day
Thunder Blunder: Jerami Grant, who has a lot of work to do if he wants to guard KD
Thunder Plunderer: Kevin Durant, he scores
Next Game: Versus the Minnesota Timberwolves, Saturday, November 5th, 5 PM Central Daylight Time.