Do you remember the movie Groundhog Day? The one starring Bill Murray who was living the same day over and over again? This is how it feels to watch this Thunder basketball team. Every game Oklahoma City is playing, it looks like the previous one. Everyone knows the script and what is going to happen next.
Last night again, the Thunder started strong on both ends of the floor. Solid defense, everyone was engaged and knew how and when to help. The same on offense: great ball movement, extra passes, and good shots selection. Then at some point, the momentum switched and the Thunder gave up the big lead which they played hard to earn. When the opposite team had taken over the game, yesterday it was New Orleans’ turn, Oklahoma City stopped doing what worked so well, went back to a poor defense and, even worse, to a questionable offense.
The only explanation that comes to my mind to justify why Oklahoma City is giving up big leads in the second half is summarized in only one word: stamina.
I have the feeling that Oklahoma City cannot move quickly anymore in the second half, on offense and on defense the legs aren’t there.
Donovan and the full team, in general, talked about that a few times. Obviously, it’s not only a physical issue, but also a mental one.
Starting from the defense, the Thunder are late on most of the weak side helps, they don’t double team correctly, pick and roll coverage is bad, and opposite players are enable to take easy shots. On the other end, they reduce the offense to pick and roll, one vs one isolation, and a maximum of two passes. This all is the opposite of what gave Oklahoma City the big lead during the first part of the game.
Some interesting data (source stats.nba.com):
While the Offense has been quite constant, 0.9 points worse in the second half, the defense instead completely collapses. In the First half, the Thunder have a net rating of 12.7 which would be second in the league only behind the Golden State Warriors, while in the second half it drops to a -3.6 (23rd overall).
The Thunder must find a way to manage their physical and mental energy through a full game, and they have to keep up with what worked so well in the first half, for a whole game.
It’s not fair to point the finger at only one player or the coach. This is a team issue, and as a team, they have to figure it out together.
Obviously, the sooner the better.
- FG% 42.0 3P% 31.0, FT% 76.0%, ASSISTS 22, REBOUNDS 40, STEALS 14, TURNOVERS 14
- FG% 51.0, 3P% 28.0, FT% 78.0%, ASSISTS 26, REBOUNDS 49, STEALS 9, TURNOVERS 19
The Thunder will be back at home on Wednesday evening to play the Golden State Warriors, tip-off 7 pm CT.
Photo Credit: Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images