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Tag Archives: Postgame

Game 8 Results: Offensive Fury

Final Score: Thunder 110, Blazers 108

Thunder Record: 5-3

Stat Leaders:

Points: Westbrook with 36

Rebounds: Westbrook and Ibaka with 7

Assists: Westbrook with 7

This is what is known as, “Filling up the box score.”

Postgame Analysis

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Game 7 Results: Wins are Good. Wins are Very Good.

Thunder 109 , 76ers 103

Stat Leaders

Points: Westbrook, Durant with 31

Rebounds: Elton Brand with 9

Assists: Westbrook with 12

Post-Game Analysis

The Thunder came into last night’s game in search of some basic competencies.  Thus far they have been plagued by several serious struggles, including their offensive flow, their interior defense, and also an overarching sense of how to be a “good” team.

The biggest thing that stood out to me last night was that the Thunder played a much more evenly paced game, and I think that is a primary testament to Russell Westbrook’s game management.  Stat wise, Westbrook played on the extremes.  He had excellent offensive production, with 31 points on only 19 shots, and handed out 12 assists.  However these strong stats were offset by 7 turnovers, only one less than his poor offering in the loss to the Celtics.  So my praise on him is tempered somewhat.

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Darnell Mayberry Online Chat

If you missed it live, here is the record of Mayberry’s post-game online chat today.

Darnell Mayberry Chat

Game 5 Results: Thunder See Red, Finally Charge

Wow, that is one hackneyed post title.

Result: Thunder 107, Trailblazers 106

Stat leaders:

Points: Durant, Westbrook with 28

Rebounds: Camby with 12

Assists: Andre Miller with 11

What the pros are saying:

What I’m saying:

Watching a team compete, even if they lose, is like a breath of fresh air.   Maintaining a winning momentum over the course of 82 games is not easy; even the best and most disciplined teams (Spurs, Lakers) will have letdowns.  But five games in? Game fatigue shouldn’t yet be a problem, which is why I and so many others were concerned about the Thunders’ lackadaisical effort in their loss to the Clippers.   I think it is a simple series of  questions that can be asked thus:

Q: “We just got run out of the building by the Clippers.  Why?”

A: “Because we didn’t play hard enough.”

Q: “Why didn’t we play hard enough?”

The answer, if players are honest, is: “We didn’t think we needed to.”

That is probably why they barely beat the Bulls and then got embarrassed by the Jazz and Clippers.  They were on the cusp of it happening again, but then they started to do the things that teams need to do when they’re playing from behind.

To wit:

  • They cut the deficit to 6 going into the 4th quarter. If they don’t do that, there is no last second heroics.
  • They cranked up defensively, especially on Roy and Aldridge.
  • They eased up on the three point shooting, down to 15 this game.  Durant cut his personal attempts in half, this time making a respectable 2-5.

The Blazers played admirably, especially since they had just lost three key contributors to their team (Oberto, Fernandez, Williams).  Once again the Thunder were not completely focused defensively in the first half, allowing the Blazers to shoot a very high percentage (64%) in the first half.  However, this time the Thunder kept their wits about them and did not roll over, as they had previously done.  After they lost an early seven point lead in the first quarter, The Thunder suddenly found themselves trailing again.  Instead of being demoralized this time, they kept their heads in the game and kept things close going into the fourth quarter.  A six point deficit is easily undone; a 15 point deficit, not so much.

I think that this is the key factor in the win; the fact that the Thunder realized that there come points in every game, no matter who the opponent, where they have to grind.  I immediately think of the winning ways of the Spurs over the past decade.  They have become the masters at grinding; that is, whenever important facets of the team concept are failing, they adjust so that those facets are minimalized and others become the focus so that they gain a relative competitive advantage.

I think this is what I saw the most out of the Thunder in the playoffs last year – the willingness to fight, and you have to be willing to do it – you have to not be afraid to fail.  This factor was as encouraging as anything I’ve seen in the team thus far.  At this point in the season, the win is icing.

Game 4: As Expected, LA Crushed the Young Thunder

Oh, wait…you mean it was the other LA?  Oh me.  Oh my.

Final Score: Clippers 107, Thunder 92

Stat leaders:

Points: Eric Gordon with 27

Rebounds: Krstic, Green, and Griffin all with 9

Assists: Eric Bledsoe with 8

Post-Game Analysis:

This outcome was shocking, to say the least.  What was even more shocking was that the outcome was virtually certain by the middle of the 2nd quarter.  During this quarter, the Thunder, for all intents and purposes, stopped playing the game.  In a dazzling display of nonchalance, the Thunder put on the performance of an AAU team that had just met before tipoff.

It cannot be stated strongly enough – the Clippers are one of the most historically inept teams in the history of the NBA, and the Thunder’s play made them look like playoff contenders.  Something isn’t just wrong.  Something is broken.

We could discuss the listless play, the dribbles off of the leg, the horrible 3 point shooting (4-26), and the refusal to put a body on young Griffin.

All of those critiques would be valid.  But addressing them won’t put a W on their record, especially facing a vastly superior Portland team tonight.  Rather, the team seems to have lost its own identity.

This is what I think is in play: the Thunder bought into their own hype.  I hate to say it, but that is what I see.  I see a team that does not seem to have any sense of taking the game seriously.  I’m sure if you asked them to a man if they took it seriously, to a man they would say, “yes.”   However, when you drop two games back to back by double digit scores, the latter to a team that has no history of a winning identity, and you look bad doing it, a message is being sent that the Thunder took themselves too seriously and their opponents not seriously enough.

Allow me to quote the great Crash Davis:

Know what the difference between hitting .250 and .300 is? It’s 25 hits. 25 hits in 500 at bats is 50 points, okay? There’s 6 months in a season, that’s about 25 weeks. That means if you get just one extra flare a week – just one – a gorp… you get a groundball, you get a groundball with eyes… you get a dying quail, just one more dying quail a week… and you’re in Yankee Stadium.

Sure, it’s fiction, and yeah, it’s baseball.  But I think this sentiment highlights something that younger athletes don’t quite grasp; that is, that everything matters.  Take a look at the 2010 Dallas Cowboys.  After 7 games, many of them ending with key players saying things like, “we can fix that,” “We’ll do that better next time,” and “We just need to right the ship and stop making so many mistakes,” you look up and their season is effectively over.  The Cowboys were predicted to be the first team in NFL history to host the Superbowl in their home stadium.   They believed the hype, didn’t take any aspect of their performance seriously, and now that Superbowl is gone with less than half the season expended.

I know that it is easy to go crazy living game to game over the course of an 82 game season, and the mistakes being made are correctable.  But are they being corrected?  Has their atrocious interior defense gotten better since game 1? Has their shooting percentage gone up?  Have the coaching decisions improved?  Not yet.  Of course, there is time.  There is plenty of time.  But that is the great narcotic to complacent teams (just ask Jerry Jones).

Like Crash Davis said, the difference between being an also-ran and a contender is the smallest of things extrapolated across the vast sea of endless back to back games in February and March.  Everything matters.

Games against the likes of the Clippers make the difference between a 42 win 8th seed and a 52 win 4th seed.   Tonight they’re in Portland.  It is time to get their head on right.

10/30 Daily Links

Post-game fallout:

What the pros are saying:

What I’m saying:

  • The team, like many teams, preach defense.  In my mind, there are teams that play defense, and there are teams that talk about playing defense.  The Thunder appears to be the latter at this point.  But it’s early!
  • I don’t think the Thunder can be considered a western elite yet.  In a seven game series, I’d still take the Lakers, Spurs, Mavericks, and possibly even the Blazers over them.
  • Green’s play thus far highlights the interesting dichotomy in NBA performance that contrasts statistics vs. value to a team.  I know what I see though, and right now I see a guy who wants to be part of this team, but has a tendency to take bad shots, and shots that are better suited to others.