The Thunder certainly struggled in multiple aspects in game one against Portland. While it wasn’t an ugly loss, it was certainly an ugly performance from Oklahoma City. Despite playing terribly on offense and allowing way too many easy looks on defense, OKC only lost by 5. This should be an encouragement for the team knowing they still had a chance despite the poor performance. That being said, what should the Thunder do after the loss in the opening game of the series?
What The Thunder CAN’T Do.
What Oklahoma City can’t do, is assume the shots are going to fall in game two. The Thunder shot a post-season worst 15% on 5/33 from beyond the arc. Just because they didn’t fall in game one, doesn’t mean they will in game two. Paul George’s shot is clearly suffering from the shoulder injury. With that in mind, find other ways to contribute on offense. Shooting 4/15 from beyond the arc isn’t what this team needs from George.
The Thunder could very well come out on Tuesday night and light it up from the three, but they cannot expect that to happen. The game plan has to be to find other ways to score. If the shots start falling along the way, awesome. If not, there needs to be another plan in place.
Secondly, OKC can’t come out and expect the officiating to be any different. At this point, assume you aren’t going to get those calls. While the team may not agree with the calls they received in game one, it’s been that way all season. Perhaps it’s time to change the way you play a little, instead of whining to the officials all game long. Play to the way the officials are calling the game. It shouldn’t be that difficult to know the way they call things at this point.
What The Thunder SHOULD Do.
What Oklahoma City should do is continue to feed the ball inside to Steven Adams. Adams had six attempts in the first quarter, and then only eight more for the remaining 36 minutes of the game. Enes Kanter may have had the advantage in game one, but I still think he is the biggest liability for Portland. If I was the Thunder, I’d continue to feed the ball inside. In my opinion, Adams should be taking 20 or more shots per game in this series.
Lastly, the Thunder should continue to keep defense as their number one priority. Portland shot lights out from the three in game one, especially in the first quarter when they went 7/10. There’s no way they shoot that way again in this series.
Oklahoma City should not be discouraged in their defense after Sunday afternoon. Despite the incredible shooting from Portland in the first twelve minutes, the Thunder only gave up 65 points for the rest of the game. If this team continues to keep up the pace on defense, the shots on offense will start falling for the Thunder.
The 5 point loss in game one isn’t going to decide this series. However, the way Oklahoma City comes out in game two is going to decide it. The Thunder did a lot of things wrong on Sunday, but they also showed a lot of promise. OKC isn’t out of this yet, in fact, I’d say they still have a very solid chance of winning this series.
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