What have you done for me lately? If you are the Oklahoma City Thunder, you should go confidently into your first round match-up with the Portland Trailblazers. The Thunder just finished a regular season in which they swept the season series against division rival Portland, 4-0. But just as the slogan says about the postseason: it’s a new season.
The Portland team the Thunder will face in the playoffs will not be the same Portland team they faced in the regular season. The season-ending injury to Jusuf Nurkic late in the season wipes away a source of familiarity the Thunder are used to seeing from Portland. The entire dynamic of this series changed the minute Nurkic went down in the 73rd game of the season. Logic would have you think this benefits Oklahoma City. But in a weird way, that dynamic may be slanted more towards Portland.
The Thunder swept the season series against Portland in part because they matched up so well with them. Russell Westbrook can play Damian Lillard to, at worst, a draw. CJ McCollum has a bit of a feast or famine thing going when he faces the Thunder. And Nurkic is one of the few centers in the league that plays similar to Steven Adams. Continue reading First Round Preview: Thunder vs. Trailblazers→
Royce Young (ESPN) on the addition of Markieff Morris to the Thunder: “With financial constraints playing a part because of a significant luxury tax bill pending, the Thunder didn’t make a deal at the trade deadline, instead hoping to make an addition in the buyout market. Morris will provide versatility to the Thunder’s bench, backing up starting power forward Jerami Grant and providing another floor-spacing big in addition to Patrick Patterson.”
Chris Herring (FiveThirtyEight) says the Thunder are now Paul George’s team: “For years, Westbrook critics have suggested that he’d give his teams a better chance to win by taking a step back. More often than not, he ignored these voices. And once he had the spotlight to himself, he broke an NBA record for the highest single-season usage rate while also averaging a triple-double over a full season — and that 2016-17 OKC team finished sixth in the West and lost in the first round of the playoffs. Westbrook tried playing more unselfishly last season, though that largely seemed to backfire. But it seems to be working now.” Continue reading Thunder At A Glance – 15 February 2019→
Jonathan Tjarks (The Ringer) on how the best offense for the Thunder is a great defense: “Oklahoma City is built around an overwhelming amount of length and athleticism. After getting off to an 0-3 start, it doubled down on both its strengths and weaknesses by benching Patrick Patterson for Jerami Grant, an all-world athlete and inconsistent shooter. Grant, at 6-foot-9 and 220 pounds with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, is a hyper-athletic wing who can defend players at all five positions. A frontcourt of Grant, Steven Adams, and Paul George stifles opposing teams, regardless of who the point guard is. That trio has a net rating of plus-13 in 373 minutes with Westbrook and plus-14 in 313 minutes with Schröder.”
Having an identity is so important to succeeding in the NBA. When the game gets close and the time starts running out, the identity of the team is what usually leads them to victory. The Oklahoma City Thunder have been without an identity since Kevin Durant decided to pack his bags and head to Oakland two summers ago. Continue reading Thunder @ Nets Preview (Game 23 of 82)→
ESPN’s panel of basketball experts answered some questions in regards to the Western Conference: “I expect the Oklahoma City Thunder to be the second-best come May. Oklahoma City currently sports the West’s second-best differential behind the Denver Nuggets, and that’s despite Russell Westbrook missing eight games due to injury. The Thunder will still add stopper Andre Roberson to what’s already been the league’s best defense on a per-possession basis and have plenty of playoff experience.”
ESPN has OKC number 5 in their weekly power rankings: “The Thunder did exactly what they were supposed to in a light week, winning both games against the lowly Cavaliers and Hawks by a combined 32 points. They have now won 14 of 17 games to quietly inch closer to the top of the Western Conference. Paul George has been outstanding, averaging 25.2 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 4.6 APG and 3.0 combined steals and blocks during his last 10 games to keep the Thunder competitive even when Russell Westbrook has had to sit.” Continue reading Thunder At A Glance: 04 December 2018→
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Line: OKC -2.0 | O/U: 220
Off Rating: OKC – 107.9 (17th) | DET – 108.6 (13th)
Def Rating: OKC – 101.4 (1st) | DET – 106.3 (8th)
When the regular season schedule is first released, there’s a definite curiosity to predict the win/loss record based on who you think the superior team is on a nightly basis. For the Oklahoma City Thunder, there was a feeling that the early months on the schedule would be the easier ones. But then again, this season has not necessarily gone as planned in terms of how some teams are performing. Continue reading Thunder @ Pistons Preview (Game 22 of 82)→
On the latest episode of The Weekly, the Topic: Thunder crew discuss the following topics:
Hooking up the TiVo – Loss vs. Denver, Wins vs. Cleveland and Atlanta
Quarterly NBA awards (MVP, ROY, DPOY, MIP, etc)
Quarterly NBA awards (MVP, Newcomer, DPOY (minus Paul George & Steven Adams), etc)
What to do about Deonte Burton
Andre Roberson setback and what to expect moving forward
Thunder Forecast – Looking forward towards 3 road games in Detroit, Brooklyn, and Chicago
Thank you for listening to our podcast. You can catch the post-game recaps on the 2018-19 Schedule page on this site and on Thunderous Intentions. You can listen to us anywhere you get your podcasts. Please leave us a 5-star review on Itunes if you would like. That really helps with our ratings on Itunes. You can follow us and interact with us on Twitter (@OKCTopicThunder). Thank you for listening, and as always, Thunder Up!