Thunder

OKC Slumping at the Wrong Time

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A late lull in their season may spell disaster for the Thunder.

For the first time in months, they sit in outside of the top three in the west. After snapping a four-game skid Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies, they reverted back to the loss column following a 120-131 disappointment Tuesday in Minnesota.

Since the all-star break, Oklahoma City is 2-5– good for 27th in the league. The Thunder are starting to play like a team without an identity and it shows with every missed assignment, bad shot, and thoughtless turnovers that have occurred over the last seven games.

Westbrook’s Efforts Not Enough

Russell Westbrook has been hyper-aggressive and has increased his shooting efficiencies. The bad news is his field goal attempts have increased to 23.1/game opposed to 19.1/game before the break. You could blame that on Paul George’s three-game absence, but the jump in field goal attempts took place before that.

In the first two games back from the break, Westbrook shot the rock 59 times making just above 50% of those shots. He also sniped his way to 44% from the three-point line on 25 tries. All leading to 42 points per game over those two games.

He had a solid overall shooting night from the field against Denver, but it still ended in a loss. His efficiency subsequently came tumbling down to earth, shooting 36% from the field and 22% from deep in last three games before last night’s contest.

As the leader of a George-less team, Westbrook’s production and efficiency will be paramount to Thunder wins– especially when someone else doesn’t have a great night. The team hasn’t played like they did before the break and surely not up to the standard they set in January.

Numbers Down Across The Board

Over the last six games, OKC’s offense has looked more like it did in the earlier in the season. Their offensive rating, 106.5, is 26th in the league. They’re shooting 42.8% from the field since the all-star break and 32.3% from three. Since George’s injury, things have looked even worse for them, sliding their averages down to 41.4% from the field and 27.9% from three.

The best thing you can say about this team right now is that they haven’t lost their defensive edge until the Wolves game. The last seven games, they’ve dropped to 17th in defensive rating (110.9) and were ranked 12th without PG (103.6). That still leaves them with a net rating of -4.3 since break and -3.9 while PG was out.

George is somehow strengthening his MVP case without stepping on the floor. The team uses him as an anchor offensively and is looking like a shell of itself in this three-game sample size without him. The Thunder head to north to take on the Portland Trail Blazers, who are now currently tied with the Thunder and Rockets for third place. Hopefully, things will improve with George back in the lineup.

OKC has the hardest schedule of any team to end this season and at this rate, they may just lose home court or worse fall to the 5th seed and to play the Rockets or Blazers– two very solid home teams — in the first round.

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