The Oklahoma City Thunder look to avoid falling in the unclimbable hole of a 0-3 series deficit against the Houston Rockets in today’s game. Oklahoma City has been a disappointment in the playoffs, playing a stagnant and dense type of basketball in the two games thus far this series.
If the Thunder are to win this game, they will need to go back to their roots and play their brand of basketball that consists of even scoring distribution and great defense. Chris Paul will need to play this game better than the previous two if Oklahoma City is to win today.
The Thunder will have to avoid the prolonged scoring droughts they have suffered through in the first two games this series. It is going to be nearly impossible to beat arguably the best offensive team in the league if you only manage to score a few points in extended minutes of play.
The time is now for Billy Donovan to shorten his rotation to just the seven or eight guys he truly trusts out there. Which could mean guys like Steven Adams and Nerlens Noel, both of whom Houston has made nearly unplayable thus far, play fewer minutes? Donovan’s rotations so far this series has seen nine players play at least 10 minutes in both games. Which is just one/two too many, now is not the time to experiment with lineups and ‘feel out’ rotations.
OKC will need to win the non-Harden minutes if they are to win, you can not afford trading baskets or letting bench players like Ben McLemore, Austin Rivers, and Jeff Green get hot from three or let them score at will. It has been infuriating seeing the Rockets’ bench answer every run OKC would attempt with players like those hitting big shots.
Losing to James Harden is one thing, but failing against guys like McLemore, Rivers, and Green? That is just unacceptable and deserves slander.
Russell Westbrook will continue to sit and is out for this game, and the Thunder look fully healthy. Lu Dort made his return from a knee sprain the last match and was the Thunder’s second-best player behind Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Dort did a great job of making life tough for Harden and taking the open looks from three that Houston gave him.
Today does or die for OKC and their season. If the team is to make this series enjoyable, a win today will go a long way into achieving that goal.
Today’s game tips off at 5 p.m. CT and can be watched on Fox Sports Oklahoma and ESPN.