Oklahoma City Thunder

Uninspired Thunder Loses to Short-Handed Mavericks

Craig Hofeld


The Rundown

The Oklahoma City Thunder got out to another one of their slow starts on Sunday afternoon at home against the Dallas Mavericks. In desperate need of a few wins to avoid the 8th seed, the Thunder still came out flat. After playing catch up for a majority of the game, OKC finally took a lead in the fourth quarter. In what turned out to be a very back and forth final twelve minutes, it was the Mavericks who came out on top 106-103.

It Takes 48 Minutes

There’s no doubt that this Thunder team is extremely talented. They have one of the best starting lineups in the league, and arguably the sixth man of the year on their bench. Maybe this is why we see this team come out and lay an egg so often. Just because you have the talent doesn’t guarantee yourself a win at any level, let alone in the NBA.

It’s time for OKC to come out and play a full 48-minute game. It has to start now; if it doesn’t, this squad is looking at another first-round exit in the playoffs. No matter the level of talent of your opponent, you can’t win games only playing your hardest in the final minutes. Yes, the final 5 minutes were extremely fun to watch. But, imagine what this season would be like if this team could play at that level for 48 minutes.

How About Some Offense?

The Thunder has a ton of great shooters, but the way the offense flows in OKC doesn’t exactly allow them the best opportunities. It seems like when the shots aren’t falling, it only gets worse. Instead of setting up an offense to get better looks, the Thunder goes into ISO mode and takes contested shots.

There is a time and place for ISO basketball, but going into it in desperation mode is the problem for this team. As a matter of fact, it’s been a problem for this team since 2008 when they arrived in Oklahoma City.

It seems like time and time again the opposing team runs a set on offense and picks apart the defense for an easy basket. Especially out of timeouts or a dead ball situation. Yet, on the other end, you see the Thunder running a stagnant offense and taking a contested shot going away from the basket. My question remains, is this team ever going to run an actual offense?

Where is the Leadership?

When you look at this roster, there’s two guys who have to be the leaders of this team. It’s obvious: Russell Westbrook and Paul George. Lately, I’ve not seen much leadership from either of these guys. A coach can only do so much, it’s up to the players to come out and decide to play. The lack of energy early in games comes from leadership. Both Westbrook and George have to do a better job getting their guys to go out and play early in games.

Secondly, leadership can also be defined in decision making in high pressure situations. In this game specifically, the Thunder was down by one point with about 20 seconds remaining. Billy Donovan drew up a play, but it didn’t work. OKC got the rebound with plenty of time to work and threw up not one, but two shots from beyond the arc.

This is where the Thunder needs the leadership of Russell Westbrook and Paul George to take control, slow it down, and run one final play. I’ll take one solid final play over two deep shots any day. Especially with the way this team was shooting on Sunday afternoon (11-43 from 3).

Thunder Player of the Game

Steven Adams has had his fair share of struggles this season, but he has also put together some really good performances. Adams was dominant inside the paint today recording 20 points (10-17 FG), 15 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks. As I’ve asked all season long, why doesn’t the Thunder look to make him a bigger part of the offense? 

Another Chance at Home

The Thunder will have another home game on Tuesday night as they host the Los Angeles Lakers at 7:00 PM CT. The game will be televised on TNT and broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.

OKC is 1-1 against LA so far this season (0-1 at home, 1-0 on the road), and LeBron James will not be playing Tuesday, which should give the Thunder the clear advantage. That being said, as we all know, there’s no taking wins for granted at this point. The Thunder will still have to come out and play to the level of their potential for a much-needed win on Tuesday.

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