Oklahoma City Thunder playoffs

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Feb 27, 2018
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Tulsa
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#1
OKLAHOMA CITY — If the New Orleans Pelicans can travel to favored Portland and get a Game 1 victory, and if the Indiana Pacers can win by 18 points in the home gym of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, then it certainly was within the realm of possibility that a surging Utah Jazz team would be a threat on Sunday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Oklahoma City has a history of clashing with streaking opponents in the playoffs. In advance of the 2012 Western Conference finals, San Antonio had an 18-game win streak. In advance of the 2016 Western finals, Golden State had the momentum of a 73-win regular season.

With 29 victories in its last 35 games since January, the Jazz arrived in Oklahoma at a 2012 Spurs-2016 Warriors level of hotness.

In a Game 1 that began only minutes after the conclusion of Indiana’s blowout conquest of the Cavs, could Utah score a knockdown in this first round of its first-ever postseason meeting with the Thunder?

The Jazz rocked to a 16-4 lead, but the Thunder recovered to get 36 points from Paul George, 29 points and 13 rebounds from Russell Westbrook, and timely fourth-quarter 3-point baskets from Alex Abrines.
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Feb 27, 2018
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#2
OKLAHOMA CITY — Exactly two years earlier, there was the Dallas debacle.

In Game 2 of a first-round series, Oklahoma City was dealt a one-point home loss by a Mavericks team that might have had less horsepower than any postseason team that season.

On Wednesday, there was Game 2 of the Utah-Thunder series at Chesapeake Energy Arena. It bore a strong resemblance to Game 2 of the 2016 Dallas-Thunder series — and the outcome was exactly the same.

In spite of jarring the Jazz with a 19-0, third-quarter run, the Thunder reverted to some of the bad habits that were so common during the regular season.

Oklahoma City attempted too many 3-point shots, missed too many 3-point shots, got only 54 points from its three primary offensive sources and wound up with a 102-95 defeat.
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Feb 27, 2018
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Tulsa
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#3
A two-games-to-one series deficit has been common for Oklahoma City Thunder playoff teams.

Since the start of the 2010 postseason, the Thunder has been involved in 18 series. In 11 of those series, there was a two-games-to-one deficit.

With Saturday’s Game 3 loss to Utah – 115-102 at Salt Lake City – the Thunder was dealt a 2-1 deficit in an NBA Western Conference first-round series. It is impossible to overstate the significance of Game 4, scheduled for 9:30 Monday night at Utah’s Vivant Smart Home Arena.

If OKC is beaten in Game 4, there would be a 3-1 deficit. Getting three consecutive wins over Utah would be extremely difficult, given that the Jazz hasn’t endured a three-game losing streak since early January.

It also is impossible to overstate the Thunder’s need for Russell Westbrook to be Russell Westbrook in Game 4.
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Feb 27, 2018
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#4
Russell Westbrook vowing to put an end to Ricky Rubio’s stellar play three games into the Western Conference first round.

“I’m gonna shut that (crap) off next game,” Westbrook spat out after the Thunder’s 115-102 loss at Utah Saturday night in Game 3. “Guarantee that.”

You know something, he probably will. Westbrook will snarl through Game 4, lock up Rubio and lead Oklahoma City to a 2-2 series tie. There is no excuse for him not to.

He is better than Rubio. He is better than pretty much everyone he plays against. When someone of Westbrook’s caliber puts his mind to doing something, there really isn’t much to prevent it from happening.

But man alive, what is it he was waiting for?
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El Gato Bandito

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Jan 5, 2009
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#5
Trying not to let one or two games skew my opinion too much, but this team looks like a hot mess right now. I'm not sure what the answer it, but something drastic needs to change. Try a new starting 5. Put Melo on the bench, start Grant, or pull Brewer and start Huestis. SOMETHING has got to change for Game 5, or the season will be over.

If Billy Donovan just trots out the same starting 5 and hopes that they pull it out, then after we lose and the season is over, he needs to be fired. Dude has not impressed me at all in his 3 seasons.
 

teibbor

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#6
Trying not to let one or two games skew my opinion too much, but this team looks like a hot mess right now. I'm not sure what the answer it, but something drastic needs to change. Try a new starting 5. Put Melo on the bench, start Grant, or pull Brewer and start Huestis. SOMETHING has got to change for Game 5, or the season will be over.

If Billy Donovan just trots out the same starting 5 and hopes that they pull it out, then after we lose and the season is over, he needs to be fired. Dude has not impressed me at all in his 3 seasons.
no way he makes a change this late. He should have been doing that earlier in the season. i blame Billy some but Presti brought these guys in.
George will be gone and we are stuck with Melo's 28 million for another year. We will be lucky to make the playoffs next season.
 

El Gato Bandito

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#7
no way he makes a change this late. He should have been doing that earlier in the season. i blame Billy some but Presti brought these guys in.
George will be gone and we are stuck with Melo's 28 million for another year. We will be lucky to make the playoffs next season.
Totally agree that Presti deserves blame. It's his mess, but Donovan hasn't shown any type of creative problem solving to try and help out. It just seems like he just is doing the same thing every day and hoping for a different result to magically appear at some point. They may be able to pull out a win this next game, but I just don't see them coming back at this point for the overall series.
 

Lab Rat

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#8
Mike Budenholzer just became available. I’d take him in a heartbeat over Donovan.
 
Feb 27, 2018
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#9
At the 8:32 mark of Game 5’s third period, the Utah Jazz led 71-46 and was positioned to record a statement victory and end Oklahoma City’s season.

After that?

There was an inexplicably, unforgettably sensational response from Russell Westbrook, Paul George and their desperate Thunder teammates.

At the end of the greatest comeback in Thunder history, the final score was OKC 107, Utah 99.
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Mar 23, 2013
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#10
The last time I checked the game, the Thunder were still down 15 and Paul George was getting mauled under the basket without a foul called.

Then I checked the News on 6 website this morning and I was like

1524751039788.png
 

El Gato Bandito

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#11
Yeah that was pretty wild. They looked dead in the water there for a little while. They showed more heart and determination last night than they did the entire second half of the season.

Hope they keep it up.
 

jetman

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#14
Last night was a pretty miraculous quarter and half, but these guys still have huge hole to dig themselves out of. Hopefully they didn't blow their entire load in that comeback last night. Utah still plays much better team basketball than the Thunder.
 

Lab Rat

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#15
Last night's heroics by Westbrook and PG13 don't change my view that Mike Budenhozer would be a drastic upgrade over Billy Donovan. Bud of course is a protege of Popovich and his teams are generally characterized by efficient shooting and stingy defense. His roster has been decimated over the past few years in Atlanta, but his 2014-15 team was outstanding. Ignoring this past season, in which his roster was a glorified G-League team, his teams finished in the top 6 in DRtg in each of the previous three seasons. His teams are also generally in the top 5 or so in forced turnover % and defensive FT/FGA (they don't put the other team on the FT line). His teams don't rebound nearly as well as the Thunder have over the past several years, but they make up for it in other ways.
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Oct 7, 2008
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#16
Last night was a pretty miraculous quarter and half, but these guys still have huge hole to dig themselves out of. Hopefully they didn't blow their entire load in that comeback last night. Utah still plays much better team basketball than the Thunder.
I think if anything the silver lining in this series could be that it cements us not even thinking about bringing Melo back. Hopefully..
 

Lab Rat

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#17
Some more thoughts pertaining to my previous post...

If PG13 comes back and Roberson is healthy, the Thunder should strive to have the #1 defense in the NBA (the Jazz are #1 this year in DRtg, followed by the Celtics, Spurs, and 76ers).

I'm as big of a Westbrook apologist as there is, but his defense is atrocious at times and he is obviously puts too much focus on his personal stats, sometimes at the detriment to the team. Budenholzer is one of a very few number of coaches who could actually transform Westbrook into an All-Defensive Team type of player. With the athleticism of Westbrook, Roberson, PG13, and Adams, the Thunder have a core that should never be lower than #4 in DRtg.
 

ksupoke

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#18
Some more thoughts pertaining to my previous post...

If PG13 comes back and Roberson is healthy, the Thunder should strive to have the #1 defense in the NBA (the Jazz are #1 this year in DRtg, followed by the Celtics, Spurs, and 76ers).

I'm as big of a Westbrook apologist as there is, but his defense is atrocious at times and he is obviously puts too much focus on his personal stats, sometimes at the detriment to the team. Budenholzer is one of a very few number of coaches who could actually transform Westbrook into an All-Defensive Team type of player. With the athleticism of Westbrook, Roberson, PG13, and Adams, the Thunder have a core that should never be lower than #4 in DRtg.
I would only say that from, afar, it looks like he does what is needed based on the game conditions, I stopped following when they went down 22. Sometimes stats aren't the story, imo, the best players, Russell (chief among them but Lebron, MJ, and a few others) were the guys who, when the team needs carried they carry them. I seem to recall, last year not sure about this year, the Thunder have an outrageous winning % when he goes for a triple double and not so much when he didn't.
Just my 2 cents, I will say he is the Nolan Ryan of the NBA, you go to watch him regardless of the outcome and for that OKC can never pay him enough.
 

Lab Rat

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#19
I would only say that from, afar, it looks like he does what is needed based on the game conditions, I stopped following when they went down 22. Sometimes stats aren't the story, imo, the best players, Russell (chief among them but Lebron, MJ, and a few others) were the guys who, when the team needs carried they carry them. I seem to recall, last year not sure about this year, the Thunder have an outrageous winning % when he goes for a triple double and not so much when he didn't.
Just my 2 cents, I will say he is the Nolan Ryan of the NBA, you go to watch him regardless of the outcome and for that OKC can never pay him enough.
IMO, the problem is that the Thunder do not have an outrageous winning % when Westbrook fails to get a triple-double. This is a team that should have won 60 games this year. They would have with a defense on the level of the Jazz/Celtics/Spurs/76ers. Westbrook isn't necessarily the problem, but the team would be even better if his personal goal would be winning Defensive POY instead of averaging a triple-double.
 

ksupoke

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#20
IMO, the problem is that the Thunder do not have an outrageous winning % when Westbrook fails to get a triple-double. This is a team that should have won 60 games this year. They would have with a defense on the level of the Jazz/Celtics/Spurs/76ers. Westbrook isn't necessarily the problem, but the team would be even better if his personal goal would be winning Defensive POY instead of averaging a triple-double.
I think it's a chicken and egg thing, again from my vantage (there is no denying I have a limited knowledge of the NBA) it looks like if RW has an avg game the team struggles (some wins and some losses) when he is off the team seems to lose most of the time and the only time you can really count on a win is when he is on and even then some nights it's a struggle. I agree they should have won 60+, I thought I saw that they lost more leads (1/2 or 3rd qtr don't recall exactly) than anyone else in the NBA and perhaps at time RW does go for the stat book but when he doesn't show on the line they tend to lose.
IMO, while it may have appeased RW, the Carmello move is a disaster on all fronts (at least this year) and if PG doesn't re-up it looks like that might have been a poor move as well I understand the George move not sure I ever really understood the Carmello move (except maybe that it freed up Adams).
A true 3rd option, someone to 'consistently' take doubles off of PG and RW and the guy who got injured coming back (at the same level defensively) and they are right in the thick of it, they ran GS off the floor when they had that.
Would like to see them come back and take this series, if not then making the playoffs hurts them this year way more than helps.

Off topic - but I'd like to see them make a run at the coach that just left the Hawks (not even going to try to spell his name) let's just call him Bud. I think if they could lock up PG and get the injured guy back that this guy would be a real difference in them taking the next step, just not sold on Donovan but again, I am the Sgt Schultz of of the NBA.

edit: I was wrong through 69 games (don't know how it looks after the reg season is over) the Thunder have the 3rd most losses after being ahead by 10+ trailing (surprisingly) the 76ers and (not surprisingly) the Knicks, not sure how the last dozen or so games would impact this.
http://www.nbaminer.com/margins-comebacks/

edit again:
I just saw your comment on the Hawks guy so I guess I just echo what you said but it sounds like he has a number of suitors.
 
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