In a game that was over before it started, the Oklahoma city Thunder were defeated by the Golden State Warriors, 91-118. I say that the game was over because the Thunder's defensive tactics were terrible. The Thunder's defenders switched around every screen. This allowed the Warriors to use their more agile players to score in mismatch situations. Furthermore, Ibaka was routinely exploited for his lack of speed of defense.
Somehow, the Thunder were able to keep the game competitive until the third quarter, when Golden State blew the game wide open. But I'm not really sure how. Golden State was getting and missing open shots, while the Thunder were forcing everything through two defenders. The Thunder clearly had the more talented players, while the Warriors were running the more efficient system.
That's not to say that the Thunder didn't bring the effort. There were multiple heroic defensive stops by the Thunder during the first half, including a couple of halted Golden State fast breaks. I just felt that the Thunder were too confident in the ability of Adams, Ibaka, and Kanter to switch onto guards. All three of those dudes are big men, and will get usually shredded by Golden State's guards in one on one situations.
Some say that the Thunder need to trap more, but I think that's just inviting more open shots for Golden State. The Thunder simply don't have the speed to routinely trap. I propose limiting Ibaka's minutes, going small with KD at the four, and bringing in Morrow or Huestis (or SINGLER?!) to fill in time. When Ibaka's hitting 1-6 from the field and is a defensive liability, there's not much reason to give him time.
Stats: Box Score | Play-by-Play/Shot Chart | Popcorn Machine | Player Tracking
Highlights: Condensed Highlights | Best of Phantom Cam | Kevin Durant 29 Pts | Stephen Curry 28 Pts | Russell Westbrook 16 Pts, 12 Ast
Interviews: Steph Curry Postgame Interview | Billy Donovan Postgame Presser | Steve Kerr Postgame Presser | Durant and Westbrook Postgame Presser | Steph Curry and Festus Ezeli Postgame Presser | Draymond Green Postgame Presser | Adams and Roberson Postgame Interviews | Andre Iguodala Postgame Interview
Video Analysis: Inside the NBA Halftime | Inside the NBA Postgame | Bballbreakdown Postgame
Dion Waiters isn't playing selfish basketball
Honestly, I think that anyone who doubt's Dion's contribution to the team at this point is making mountains out of molehills. Yeah, KD said a few cursewords towards Dion as Dion looked on. But it was right after Dion assisted KD. And Waiters wasn't exactly jacking it. Sure, 11 shots is more shots than Dion normally takes. But Waiters was given the ball in scoring position most of the time, and had to make a move.
I was also disappointed in the lack of possessions given to Dion. As JA pointed out in the quick recap, KD can't dribble the ball at all during this series. The Warriors are simply too quick, and can pressure him too easily. Even on a good shooting night for KD like tonight (11 of 18), he still had 8 turnovers. Durant had 5 turnovers to 3 assists during Game 1, which isn't good either. But Dion, on the other hand, had 3 assists to 1 turnover tonight and 4 assists to no turnovers in Game 1. Let Dion set up the offense, and get KD the ball in good position.
A player should never be ignored on offense
One thing that can drive you crazy about watching the Thunder is the difficulty of the shots they take. Most of the Thunder's shot takers are talented scorers, but they always find ways to make things hard on themselves. Why can't they just bring themselves to trust Ibaka, Roberson, and Waiters with their open shots? I see these guys get routinely ignored while Westbrook and Durant take shots into defenders.
I also really hate it when players get stuck with the ball in non-scoring position. Why do we have Roberson just stand there and hold the ball on the wing for seconds at a time? Why does Adams always insist on re-screening when his pick and roll fails? Why do Foye and Waiters ever think that a tough mid-range jumper is a good idea? Why does KD run so many high screen and roll plays? All of these things boggle my mind. Furthermore, the Thunder seem to have problems getting into their sets, and it was a large source of turnovers for them in Game 2.
I know I'm basically asking the Thunder to gamble on their role players, but it's what got them past the Spurs, isn't it?
Sammy1 did a great job of describing these stats in the comments, so I'll quote her here:
Adams was running his ass all over the floor & contested 15 shots. 5 of those were 3pt shots …. the most of anyone else on the floor, more than the guards. 10 of those were 2pt shots …. again the most of anyone else on the floor. Plus 4 screen assists.
2nd was Dion with 9 contests. Another guy who was busting his gut all over the court.
KD & Ibaka contested 6 each. Randy Foye had 6 also!! …. & he only played 18mins. KD & Ibaka are our frontcourt players (besides Adams), who imo didnt step up on defense.
Russ only had 3, what was he doing on defense? He still tries hard but I thought he regressed in his defense to some bad habits again. Sometimes Curry would get free from Russ & shoot. Russ has to stay engaged on defense.
Kanter's contest rate was high because the Warrior offense routinely targeted him.
But the Thunder's terrible offensive and defensive rebounding certainly worked against them tonight. Most of it was caused by lazy switching, despite the Thunder's superior size. Also, the Thunder were about on par with Game 1's victory when it comes to points in the paint. But the Thunder had only 13 fast break points tonight, compared to 21 during Game 1. And interestingly, Golden State actually only had 10 fast break points tonight. That's well short of golden state's fast break total of 23 during Game 1. Personally, I think it's more evidence of OKC's great effort on defense, combined with their poor strategy on defense.
- Steven Adams, save for getting caught in mismatches, had another really solid night.
- Andre Roberson took 5 shots in 15 minutes, which is as it should be.
- Randy Foye is a decent helping shooter, went 2-4.
- Kanter shot 3-5, and had a lot of trouble getting the ball in good position. About half of Kanter's time was with Westbrook, and half was without. Hard to say what will work for Kanter at this point, since the Warriors are packing the paint. Here's hoping Kanter's jumper returns.
- Steven Adams had to go to the locker room after Ezeli fell on him here, but Adams re-emerged on the court shortly after.
- Then....Steven Adams was hit in the gnads by Draymond Green. Does the abuse never end?
- Steph Curry had quite the adventure into the stands here, and it stopped play for a while.
- Here's Durant's technical foul, called when he fouled Steph Curry shooting a three point shot. Durant directed an obscenity at the ref. Just a short outburst in an intense game.
Just walked out if the arena, heard Draymond Green, literally, still running his mouth. And he's clearly not a big fan of Westbrook.— Bryan Keating (@KOCOKeating) May 19, 2016
Thunder Wonder: Kevin Durant, at least his shooting was on
Thunder Down Under: Russell Westbrook, who still managed great passing numbers
Thunder Blunder: Serge Ibaka, a nonexistant 1 of 6 from the floor and bad D
Thunder Plunderer: Steph Curry, 15 Points in 118 seconds
Next Game: Versus the Golden State Warriors, Sunday, April 22nd, 7 PM Central Daylight Time.
What did you think of last night's game? Drop a comment and let us know!