Thunder Stories

The Weekly Critique: The Tough Stretch Is Over, OKC Remains In Decent Shape

It has been an intense and exciting week for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Everything started on Thursday when they defeated the champions Cleveland Cavaliers. A great overall performance and an important win. Saturday there was the game which every Thunder fan probably marked on their calendar when the schedule came up back in August: the return of Kevin Durant. Golden State won easily but it was fun and it has been the most entertaining blowout in a regular season game. On Monday night the Thunder visited the red-hot Washington Wizards. Oklahoma did not put up much of a fight, probably still out of energy (most likely mental energy) after Saturday night. Washington blew them out in less than three quarters.

The Games

Oklahoma City vs Cleveland 118-109
Oklahoma City vs Golden State 114-130
Oklahoma City at Washington 98-120

Four Observations

About Durant return

As mentioned above, Saturday was the first time that Durant came back to Oklahoma City after his decision to leave the Thunder on July 4th. I thought that the crowd’s (and Thunder fans in general) reaction was excellent. A lot of boos, cupcake chants, but most important everyone cheered for Westbrook and the Thunder. As a matter of fact, some national media suggested to the Thunder fans to not boo Durant for what he did. Instead, they should respect him for what he did in the past for the city and the team. I don’t get why it is so hard for them to understand that, generally spoken, people are indeed grateful for what he did in the past, but the way he left and to which team he went is questionable. He did not thank the fans or the city, not a phone call to his “brother” Westbrook, he went to the team that won 73 games the season before, the team that won a ring two seasons ago, the team that kicked out the Thunder from the playoffs last year after OKC was leading 3-1.

For all of these reasons, it was fair for the fans to react the way they did. Not violent or disrespectful, just loud and passionate. This is professional sports, it’s irrational, it´s passion, and the fans are the heart of it. I thought it was their right to let Kevin Durant hear all their disappointment.

All Star Break

This upcoming weekend will be the All-Star break. The Thunder will have eight days off and it looks like this team (especially Westbrook) needs the maximum rest possible. There will be only two players participating for Oklahoma City: Sabonis will be part of the Rising Stars Challenge roster while Westbrook starts from the bench on Sunday night for the Western Conference All-Star team. It will be interesting to see Russell team up once again with Kevin Durant and other three Golden State Warriors players, especially after what happened last Saturday.

Trade Deadline

The last possible day to trade players is February 23rd. Everyone would like to get some help for Russell Westbrook, but before asking the Thunder to make some crazy trades, people should ask themselves a few questions:

  • Are other teams interested in what the Thunder could offer?
  • Why should the other teams do a trade with the Thunder?
  • Is it worth to sacrifice future assets to get some (minimum) help right now?

Because let’s be honest, unless you trade Westbrook, Oladipo, or Steven Adams, there is not much you can get in return to improve the team drastically in the short term. Sam Presti is not in an easy position but he is for sure one of the best GM in the NBA, and Thunder fans should trust him.

Defense

During this past week, the Thunder defense has been a bit of an issue. Oklahoma City gave up an average of 119.7 points per game and had a defensive rating of 115.8 (26th in the league since February 8th). To give you a comparison,  so far this season the Thunder are 10th in defensive rating with 105.0. In addition, still in the past week, the Thunder gave up 21.3 points off turnovers (29th in the league) and 20.3 opponent fastbreak points (29th in the league).

The concern should not be dramatic, because the Thunder faced the two best teams in the league plus the strong Washington Wizards, but due to a lack of power on offense, Oklahoma City has to make the defense its best quality.

Top 3 Plays Of The Week

  • I am coming. (not really a play but the best highlight of the week)

  • Abrines with the nasty poster

  • Fancy Oladipo with the 360 Layup

Up Next

The Thunder will play at home against the New York Knicks tonight. This will be the last game before the All-Star break. Oklahoma City will be back on Friday 24th still at home against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Categories: Thunder Stories

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