Blogtable: Struggling Thunder

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

OKC is 5-5 in its last 10 games, with two losses to the Clippers. A pre-playoff blip, or is something bothering you about the Thunder?

Steve Aschburner: When I saw the Thunder in Milwaukee recently, I was awed by their firepower, chemistry and aggressiveness. But I didn’t fully factor in the opposition – the Bucks offered no resistance in the paint or at the rim, and Russwell Westbrook was matchup hell for both Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. Serge Ibaka blocked five shots in a quarter … but five Bucks’ shots. My  concern is that against bigger teams – up front and in the backcourt – OKC is the club that plays smaller, relying on jump shots, without much in the low post and without enough defensive tenacity. There are no perfect teams this season, these guys included.

Fran Blinebury: Despite their little 5-5 walkabout, the Thunder are winning at a .721 clip.  Projected over the course of a full 82-game schedule, that would be a 59-win season and it’s hard to see that as any kind of flop. I consider this to a be pre-playoff hiccup, where OKC has clinched the division title and has maybe eased up off the mental gas pedal. Having said all that, I’ll repeat what I’ve always said about the Thunder. They need to work on attacking the basket late in games and stop relying on jump shots to solve every problem.

Scott Howard-Cooper: The concern now is the same concern as before: The Thunder do not take care of the ball, and that could obviously cost them in a tight playoffs. The slump? The postseason is often different than the regular season, depending on the matchup. Win the first round 4-0 or 4-1 and the questions will be about their invincibility.

Shaun Powell: OKC is simply proving there are no slam-dunks among the title contenders. The Thunder could lose in the early rounds if they run into a hot team, or they can win it all. The West should be Wild in May and June and I’ll wager big that someone will come along and derail a projected OKC-Spurs conference final. It could be the defending champion Mavericks, or Kobe, or Lob Angeles, or the dangerous Grizzlies or even the Nuggets. It’s that deep.

John Schuhmann: Since three of the losses (two to the Clips, one to the Grizz) were against possible conference semis opponents, yeah, I’d say that’s concerning. What’s interesting is that it was the Thunder’s offense that failed them in four of the five losses. Defensive consistency has been their biggest issue for most of the season, but they’ve really fallen off offensively in April, with Russell Westbrook shooting just 40 percent. Is he coming back down to earth after shooting 48 percent through March? If so, then the Thunder have issues.

Sekou Smith: In a normal season if I saw a contender wobbling to the regular season finish line this way, I might be worried. But this is no normal season. A mini-slump 60 games into an 82-game season wouldn’t rate anything more than a second glance. Again, this is not a normal season. But the Thunder’s struggles, particularly those against a Clippers team they could very well see in the postseason, are cause for some concern. In a postseason where the matchups are going to be everything, the contenders on both sides need to be wary of those teams that pose the biggest matchup problems. One other worry about the Thunder is their relative lack of playoff experience. They’ve only been deep into the postseason as a group one time. So we don’t know what sort of bounce-back this crew will have from this late-season hiccup. So I’d say this is something more than a blip — but not reason for all out panic.

41 Comments

  1. dAvesday says:

    Finals: Lakers – Celtics ;)

  2. lens2film says:

    I am a huge thunder fan and I am glad that there is stiff competition. However, have you seen this team when they are focused? It is scary. I can’t wait for june.

  3. Krob( Spurs fan) says:

    History don’t repeat it’s self in San Antonio..last year by the grizzlies and in back in 2000 by the suns then were the only times a Tim Duncan led Spurs team got knocked out the first round in his 15 years in the league..mind you he was hurt in 2000 …after yall witnessed what happened in San Antonio vs the lake show and then what happened a couple of nights ago in LA yeah ..memphis in trouble if they see us in the post season but give them credit they are probably the most dangerous underdog team out there

  4. waysapatos says:

    …the only fear for OKC is the Spurs…but they could very well get knocked out by the Grizzlies again (in the second round).

    Excellent observation! But getting knocked out by the Grizzlies again is a wishful thinking. The Grizzlies been sweep by the Spurs in the regular season (4-0). Interesting development… Oh, the Spurs is 2-1 against the Thunder, a very real concern.

  5. cottonBall says:

    East – Hawks vs Pacers
    West – Thunder vs Clippers
    Finals – Clippers vs Hawks
    2012 NBA Champions – Atlanta Hawks!

  6. Bulls 2012 says:

    I like OKC, but the type of offense they play (a catch and try to dribble and get some room to shoot offence with Durant and Westbrook) kind of scares me.. The playoff coachs are going to lock down on one of them and or Harden and can the other players step up? Perkins is not a scorer and Ibaka is not neither..You got three players that can put it in the basket, but if one or two of them has an off day they are done..BUT I STILL HAVE OKC COMING OUT OF THE WEST TO PLAY MY CHICAGO BULLS IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP AND THE BULLS IN 6. (coach Thibs will figure out the offense of OKC and lock it down)
    sry if i sound bias toward the bulls..OKC my second favorite team along with Suns and Dallas…
    Two teams i cant stand is Miami (rivial) and Indiana(overrated).

  7. kd35 says:

    the schedule is son messed up its taken a toll on everyone

  8. gabriel says:

    Thunder are having a bad streach…..
    They will dominate in the playoffs….
    finals matvhup thunder and bulls

  9. JonJon says:

    I was initially worried about okc but with Fisher and Perkins, Collison and Nazi in the locker room with them…they WILL NO DOUBT be mentally tough enough to bounce back from this “blip”. They may not have “playoff experience” but neither do the Grizzlies or Clippers, who are title contenders as well. OKC does have a higher level of defensive intensity but has not shown it here lately. They showed it in their win against MIA & i guarentee thats the OKC everyone will see come playoffs. & lets not forget this is the first time all season that OKC has all its players healthy & their rotation in order. Outside of chris paul & Kenyon Martin the clippers have ZERO mental toughness, just good potential; & yes the grizzlies matchup well defensively with OKC…but OKC matches up well defensively too. All and all…the only fear for OKC is the Spurs…but they could very well get knocked out by the Grizzlies again (in the second round).

  10. Juan Dela Cruz says:

    DEHADO….UNDERDOGS

  11. Juan Dela Cruz says:

    DEHADO

  12. Juan Dela Cruz says:

    UNDERDOGS…..DEHADO…

  13. Juan Dela Cruz says:

    West – Go Spurs GO!!!!!….East – Go Go Go Bulls….

  14. Juan Dela Cruz says:

    this is only my forecast in the WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS……SPURS@LAL…….While EASTERN CONFERENCE…..
    BULLS@CELTICS….

    • Sick says:

      Bulls and Celtics will meet in 2nd round…
      you just don’t know what you’re writing… LOL

  15. L Mac says:

    ehhhmmm… Let’s go HEAT!

  16. L Mac says:

    Oooppps bad english! Lol!

  17. L Mac says:

    Let go heat!!

  18. Sajjad says:

    The thunder will be fine come playoff time they turn the ball this much because of there fast playing style in the playoffs the game slows down and i believe that the thunder has another defensive gear and they have Durant who is a really good closer

  19. wyatt says:

    neither the clippers or the grizzlies are at all remotely scared of playing the thunder. both teams match up too well with them. thunder wont win it all because all they are is an offensive jumpshooting team.

  20. Marv says:

    I’m a big OKC fan but when I watch Durant try to chase Kobe and the scoring title rather than play the way he was playing mid season it’s crazy. He’s shooting every shot he can from the three point line rather than drive and dish to the open man. That’s the difference. Everyone elses numbers have gone down while his has gone up. Also, the two teams Clippers and Heat I watched them picking the other players up off the floor and being nice, they loss. Playing against the Lakers and Celtics they were hammering guys they win. I no Durant works out with Lebron and Chris in the off season but he better forget about that because Chris and Lebron are not playing mister nice guy. He needs to start playing with his team and stop playing stupid.

    • JDish says:

      Calm down bro, Kevin Durant shooting is not all about him just chucking shots. (even thought it does look that way) KD has one of the biggest green lights from his coach a scorer can have on an NBA team. Kevin Durant’s role on the thunder is to be a scorer, and most of the time he does that by shooting the ball in the attempt to get hot and get in rythme. Besides i really disagree with that about KD chasing a scoring title. I very trully disagree, i think KD is a standup guy and a great teammate. I don’t think he would be putting his teammates aside to chase a scoring title. His thing is to score, they give him the baall for just that. Thats the point in Keving Durant’s role with the Thunder.

  21. NbaFan says:

    I’m still not sure why they are the fav’ to win the west, and win it all?
    I see the Spurs, Memphis, Lakers and even as much as I hate to type this, but even the Clippers seem to play a little bit better, and they all seem to play alot smarter basketball than OKC. But I guess what ever team has the “celebrities” (MIA, OKC) are the ones everyone wants to watch and see go to the finals. Also I’m not saying OKC or MIA don’t have great players on thier teams and that they are just “celebrities” I’m saying every thing I read is about Thunder and Heat probably going to meet in the finals. What about the Bulls? and the Spurs? or Lakers? or even the clippers? and the Knicks, Pacers? they too are
    playing great basketball, but no one truly cares it’s about seeing Kevin Durant and Russel Westbrook vs LeBron James and Dwane Wade. Who ever is popular. I see alot of players have great nights, “Kevin Durant, Lebron James” nights, but no one talks about it. I predict underdog will either come out of the west or east.

    • Skip says:

      That’s because even though these other players have “Kevin Durant” or “LeBron James” nights, they are referring to those players for a reason….CONSISTENT domination. Not just part-time glimpses of skill.

      • spur4life says:

        kobe is dominating too and leading the league in scoring. tony parker played unbelievably good and mainly helped keep the spurs of the edge. tim duncan improoved from last years slide and that’s with career-lows in minutes played (but no one’s talking about it. last year it was allways mentioned that tim is averaging career-lows in points, rebounds,…) it feels like rajon rondo posts up triple-doubles every second game. memphis are fifth right now and that’s with a still-not-completely-healthy randolph. the rose-less bulls have still the best record in the league. have you ever heard someone mention one of those teams in the finals? no because they (bloggers on nba.com) want to see something spectacular they haven’t seen yet: wade/lebron vs westbrook/durant. but since those two teams are struggeling it seems like no one is a finals candidate…

      • spur4life says:

        kobe is dominating too and leading the league in scoring. tony parker has palyed unbelievably good all season. tim duncan has improoved from last years struggles and that’s with career-lows in minutes played (but no one is talking about that. last year it was mentioned all the time that timmy is averaging career-lows in points, rebounds,…). it seems like rajon rondo posts a triple-double every second game. memphis holds the fifth seed with a still-not-completelly-healthy randolph. the rose-less bulls have the best record all year long. but you never hear or read anyone mention one of those teams as finals candidates. it’s allways wade/lebron vs westbrook/durant because that’s something spectacular we haven’t seen in the finals yet…

  22. Waldo says:

    The English on these blogs is consistently bad.

  23. doe columbus says:

    I was upset w/ Scott Brooks for taking out R Westbrook for an extended period of time against the Clippers. Durant shot poorly because D Fisher is not a real offensive ! Clippers doubled and tripled Durant!!! I know you want Fisher to get comfortable w/ the offense, but Thunder needed that game to stay the 1 seed in West! even if Westbrook is not playing well you still have to guard him!! leaving better SHOT FOR DURANT!!

    • Thunderstuck says:

      Totally agree dude! Westbrook definitely takes defenders away from Durant. In my opinion they went and got Fisher because hes a veteran whos been there and he can make the big shot if required, nothing more. I dont understand why hes playing 20mins a game…Royal Ivey was playing way better for us than D-Fish. Spurs and the Grizz scare me the most at this point.

  24. BFoulds says:

    OKC will be fine until they meet the Spurs in the Western Finals.

    • DM8488 says:

      OKC fan and i fear the Spurs!

      • 16going417 says:

        You should fear the Lakers and Clippers as well then. Currently 1 through 4 in the west can beat each other on any given night. No one is dominate over the other in the 1 through 4 line up. It’s going to be an interesting playoffs this year that’s for sure.

  25. BOSTON FAN says:

    Every team has had atleast one slump this year. I still fear OKC.and Im confident theyll make the Finals, maybe win it all.

    • NOT SO FAST says:

      The Spurs havent had a blip… just a couple double digit win streaks.

      • TDallthewayacrossthesky says:

        no after their last 11 game win streak they had a ( get this) 2 GME LOSE streako.O naw jk uor right SPURS All thE WAY

      • Ballallday says:

        they didnt have a blip last year either. remind me what happened next

  26. allaroundballer says:

    Jordan’s Bulls never had a real threat on the low post. And maybe the only one without it !