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Playoff Views: Initial reactions to OKC’s first round exit

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What does this loss mean for the Thunder going forward?

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The bumpy road has finally come to an end. It culminated on Friday night with a 96-91 loss to the Utah Jazz, eliminating the Thunder from the playoffs. I’m going to keep this short and (not so) sweet for now, as they’ll be plenty of reactions in the coming days, weeks, and months. Instead of the normal Thunder Views format, I’m just going to run down my immediate thoughts following Friday night’s loss.

  1. The Russ Debate - Russell Westbrook finished with 46 points on 18/43 shooting. He added 10 rebounds and 5 assists in his 43 minutes of action. The Westbrook debates will come back to life, and ultimately this game will be used in many of those discussions. The fact of the matter is that Russ had zero help tonight other than Steven Adams, and he was forced to do it all on his own. This was definitely not the plan when Paul George and Carmelo Anthony joined this past offseason.
  2. Passive Playoff P - George was horribly passive tonight in a game where the Thunder really could’ve used his offensive ability to help aid Westbrook. He finished with 5 points on 2/16 shooting in 45 minutes. Maybe he ran out of steam, maybe he sunk in the moment, or maybe he’s just flat out inconsistent. I’m sold on any of those, but one thought does come to mind following an atrocious conclusion to George’s first season in OKC: Does this finish impact his free agency? Will teams be less likely to go after George because of the way he ended the 2017-18 season? Does this mean he’ll be easier for the Thunder to retain? All interesting questions to consider moving forward.
  3. Ray Felton Forever - When George became passive down the stretch, Raymond Felton showed he wasn’t afraid to shoot. I mean, he’s never afraid to shoot, but he definitely wasn’t afraid of the moment. Some went in, others didn’t, but I’ll always have love for Ray.
  4. Steven Adams - Steven Adams is still the greatest. If it were up to me, I would build this team around Westbrook and Adams.
  5. Donovan Mitchell is a problem, and will be in this league for a long time.
  6. Andre Roberson - I hate playing this game, but man he would’ve been nice to have during this series, and the entire season. Get well soon Dre.
  7. The Non-Call - I understand that Paul George was probably fouled by Rudy Gobert on the Thunder’s final possession. He got Gobert to bite, drew the contact mid-shot, but didn’t get the call. For the most part this season, that’s been called a foul. I doubt that OKC’s plan was to bank on a foul there, but I really hate leaving the final possession in the hands of the referees.

Russ discussing Utah fans and his run-ins with them:

Thanks to everyone for reading Thunder Views this season. The column will still appear here and there during the offseason, but I had a ton of fun this year, so thanks again to the WTLC community. You guys are awesome.