SOUND THE ALARM - We may actually have a problem
Just kidding. Sort of. Successful teams have gotten off to bad starts in the past. We’ll just have to wait and see if the Thunder can right the ship like the 2010 Heat and 2014 Cavs. Realistically, these are probably just some serious growing pains. Regardless, last night was bad. Really bad. And the Thunder currently have no identity worth praising.
OKC started off last night’s game with an 8-0 run. They stretched it out to finish the first quarter with a 25-10 lead. At the surface, that looked great. But it didn’t feel like a solid 15 point lead.
It didn’t feel right because the Thunder should’ve been up by 30. But they weren’t. In fact, they weren’t even playing that well. 12 minutes later, they jogged into the locker room down by 1. They didn’t lead for the remainder of the night.
In all seriousness, it’s not panic time yet. But it’s definitely time to start asking some questions.
I’m going to focus on a few things here, because I can’t wrap my head around one single point from last night’s game. Frustrating as it was, there’s still plenty of takeaways.
Last night’s misleading first quarter was a clear indicator of how this game was going to go. OKC could have and should have put the Kings away early. Rather than burying them in the first half, things quickly turned ugly. The Thunder combined for 32 points in the second and third quarters, compared to Sacramento’s 57. Not only did their shooting go cold, but OKC’s defensive breakdowns became abundant.
There was no flow with any lineup combination and spacing was a major issue across the board. In particular, the second unit looked extremely unsettled, rushing shots while also looking lost on the defensive end. Not a good sign for Donovan’s rotation.
ESPN’s Royce Young pointed out a specific sequence that really stood out in last night’s loss. With 4 minutes left, OKC was down 77-76. That’s when Melo snagged a tech and Buddy Hield followed that up with a quick three. In just 13 seconds, the Kings were suddenly up 81-76. If you want to key-in on a stretch of play from last night’s game, that’s the one to look at.
NBA is the Upside Down
- The Thunder are 0-5 against the Western Conference this year. They’re the only team in the West without an in-conference win.
- OKC had three shot clock violations in the third quarter. Lack of spacing and increased iso play is to blame here.
- OKC shot 33%. Russ-Melo-George were 15-54 (27.7%) from the floor.
- The Kings scored 10 points in the first quarter tonight and still won.
- The Knicks have a better record than the Thunder right now. Not many saw that coming.
- I feel the need to reiterate - no panic button yet. There is plenty of time.
A Look Ahead
The Thunder head to Denver on Thursday night in search of their first win against a Western Conference opponent.
The Nuggets improved to 6-5 last night with a win over the Brooklyn Nets. Denver got a nice boost from Nikola Jokic’s career high 41 point performance. He’ll be the star to watch on Thursday, as a majority of their offense runs through the 22-year-old forward.