Last night, The Oklahoma City Thunder lost game three in Utah, 115-102, and now they found themselves down 2-1 in the first round.
Despite a really good start during the first quarter, the Thunder weren’t able to keep up the energy and the intensity for the whole game. In fact, after a very solid first twelve minutes, Oklahoma City slowly disappeared from the contest, and let Utah dominate them under every aspect of the game.
To be fair, the Thunder tried to come back into the game at the beginning of the third quarter, but after a promising start, the team went back to its sloppy offense and its powerless defense. Both these factors won’t help in a regular season game, let alone in a playoff game.
I hope this loss translates into a wake-up call for the Thunder. They are playing too casual and without a sense of urgency. This, it’s unacceptable during playoff time, especially after a regular season of “we will be ready when playoffs time come”. Utah is playing its game, they are doing it very well, and Oklahoma City seems to do not have an answer. Westbrook promised that he will take care of the “red-hot” Ricky Rubio in game four, hopefully for the Thunder, he will back up his words.
Russell Westbrook has had a terrible series against Utah so far. In three games he shot the ball poorly, 36% from the floor, 27% from behind the arc and his turnovers are up if we compare them to the regular season. Westbrook doesn’t look like himself, not enough aggressive on the offense nor on defense. I understand that Gobert is an elite rim protector, but the way Westbrook is playing right now (attack the paint, jump, and then decide what to do) isn’t working. He is the leader and the motor of the team, the Thunder need him at his top, badly.
I liked the lineup where Donovan insert Patterson for Adams in order to stretch the floor. It worked quite well in the first quarter, and I think we will see more of it, especially if Adams will be in fouls trouble again.
There are three major aspects where the Thunder have to be better: rebounds, points off turnovers, fast break points.
- The Jazz outrebounded OKC by 15 last night, they controlled the glass and the tempo of the game.
- Oklahoma City forced Utah to turn the ball over 19 times but they scored only 15 points out of these turnovers. The Jazz? They forced 17 Thunder’s turnovers but they scored more than double of the points, 33.
- The Thunder finished with 4 fastbreak points. They average 15.1 fast break points during the regular season.
The series it’s far from being over, last night it was indeed a bad loss, but all the issues that Oklahoma City seems to have are fixable. If they play with more energy and more heart on both ends of the floor, then I am confident that they can bring the series even back in Oklahoma City.
- FG% 47.4, 3P% 50.0, FT% 73.7, ASSISTS 17, REBOUNDS 33, STEALS 11, TURNOVERS 17
- FG% 52.5, 3P% 38.2, FT% 66.7, ASSISTS 24, REBOUNDS 48, STEALS 12, TURNOVERS 19
Game Four will be in Utah on Monday night, tip-off 9.30 P.m. CT.