Thunder Stories

The Weekly Critique: Thunder Break Even In Last Four Games

The Thunder played four games in the past week. Three of them away from home. Oklahoma City split the outcome into two losses and two wins.
The two losses came on the road: in Charlotte, and in Houston. These games were battles, especially the one in Houston, until the last minutes. Another thing they had in common was the bad officiating. It felt like the Thunder were penalized by some questionable decisions. I will look into this below.
The two wins came vs the Nuggets at home, and in Chicago vs the Bulls. Two much needed wins in this January of terror that the Thunder are facing.

The Games:

Oklahoma City at Charlotte 112-123
Oklahoma City at Houston 116-118
Oklahoma City vs Denver 121-106
Oklahoma City at Chicago 109-94

Four Observations:

Steven Adams

Steven Adams, in the past four games, has been amazing. On both ends of the floor, his contribution was huge.
His offense looked good as never before. He averaged 16 points (70% FG), 7.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. The team was looking for him in the post and he did a great job in scoring.
His defense was very solid. Not only he averaged 2 blocks per game and 1 steal but he is versatile and showed that he can guard multiple positions. His defense quality actually has been a constant in the past year and a half.

The Strange Case of Andre Roberson

One thing which is hard to understand: why are most Thunder fans always so harsh on Andre Roberson?

Apparently, people want to see only efficient scorers and nobody minds if someone is a good defender. In the past four games, players defended by Roberson (Harden, Butler, Gallinari were some of those) shot 12.8% worse than their normal percentage (per stats.nba.com).
What’s notable is that he had more confidence also on offense in the past week. He averaged 9.3 points while shooting 50% from the floor (30% from 3). His FT percentage went up to 70. Little numbers that added to his amazing defensive support should make him a beloved player by the Thunder community.

Constant Improvement

The Thunder are founding their identity game after game. With the latest return of Cameron Payne, the rotations seem to be fixed. Obviously, some occasional switches, based on the opponent and the course of the game, will still occur.
With a roster packed with young players and rookies, the goal for Oklahoma City is not to win and have it all figured out right away but to constantly improve and maximize what they have. This requires time. Players such as Sabonis, Abrines, Grant, Kanter, and even Adams grew very much in the past weeks. We can see it every night. With the discipline that they are showing and their willingness to learn, this team will only get better.

Fair Treatment

It’s never productive to blame others for losses, referees in this case, but sometimes it is ok to ask for a fair treatment. In Charlotte and Houston, this past week, the Thunder were hurt by some controversial decisions by the officials.
Last Wednesday, The Hornets shot 49 (!!) FT. The Thunder? 23. That’s a twenty-six FT difference. Some of these calls were very tough and definitely changed the momentum of the game.
In Houston, despite what the L2M report said, it felt like Grant had a clean block on Nene on the last play. In the report is written that Grant made contact with Nene.

If this is really a foul then we could argue why Russell Westbrook is not shooting 40 FT a game by himself. However, these games are now in the past and nothing can be changed. Hopefully, Oklahoma City will get a better treatment in the future.

Top 3 plays of the week:

  • Jerami Grant is good at dunking
  • Dre says “no no”
  • Our favorite dancers are back

Up Next:

The Thunder will play their second home game of the month tonight vs the Memphis Grizzles. After this game, they will be on the road for the next six consecutive games. The three which are included in the next week are tomorrow night in Minnesota vs the Timberwolves, on Sunday in Sacramento vs the Kings, and in Los Angeles vs the Clippers on Monday.

Categories: Thunder Stories

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