Defense, Plus Balanced Scoring Equals Playoff Success.
By Addam Francisco
Oklahoma City Thunder fans all want to know how much of a threat this team will be in the playoffs. It seems as if talent wise, we have one of, if not the best team but due to injuries, the team isn't used to playing with each other like they should be.
Sunday evening’s game against the Phoenix Suns was an example of just how the Thunder need to play in the playoffs. For the exception of Russell Westbrook’s 10-of-29 shooting, the team had a pretty efficient offensive game, with six players scoring double figures. Defense has been a big problem for this team all season. They are known for being able to put points on the board but they can’t seem to keep points off the board from the opposing team. This held true until the second half as OKC held the Suns to 35 total second half points, which is the same amount they scored in the first quarter alone.
Balanced scoring has also been a problem on this Thunder team this season. With the constant injuries of key players, I think there is a bit of confusion on player roles. Some players that are typically just roll players, like Dion Waiters, Anthony Morrow, and Steven Adams have been expected to step up and play at a higher level, in some cases an All-Star level. Early on in the season they seemed to have a problem realizing that and they didn’t have much of an “attack first” mentality. However, here lately and especially in today’s game, they showed that they can step up to that next level if need be. Dion Waiters finished with 18 points, Anthony Morrow had 11 and Steven Adams had 13 points and 16 rebounds. DJ Augustin also had 19 points, which is a surprise because he’s not known as a scoring point guard. Against the Suns, like I said earlier in my story, six players finished the game in double figures. That is huge because lately it’s just consistently been Westbrook putting up some crazy point total, Enes Kanter, and Dion Waiters. It was nice to see most of the guys that see the court score like they need to.
The Thunder control their own destiny when it comes to making it through the playoffs. Even with the early exit of Kevin Durant, they have a lot of talent and can put up over 100 points every night. Everyone just needs to play their part and take some of the load off just three players. They also have to continue the defensive intensity and play teams just as hard as they played the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night.