By Addam Francisco
Oklahoma City ends their road trip in Miami where they initially looked to head back to Oklahoma City with a win after a tough loss in Atlanta but that wasn't the case. A hard fought battle against the Heat ended in a 97-95 loss, which was their second straight loss on this 2-game east coast road trip.
Is it time to panic?
Well it may just be... There's been talk around the Oklahoma City area, wondering what was going on with the team late in games in regard to finishing them out. The Thunder are now 19 games into the season, with a (11-8) record.That's basically a fourth into the year. At this rate, they are looking at a 44-to-48 win season, which falls right in the range of last years (45-37) record, and although the Western Conference doesn't seem as dominant as the past, OKC wants progress, and to be a championship contender. With this record, they will be looking at the same situation as last year... Fighting for a meaningful playoff spot.
What's the problem?
Depending on the game, the problem seems to either be starting games strong, or ending games strong. Also, the lineup problems and lack of defense. The slow starts and bad endings are pretty self-explanatory but the lack-of defense when they get these leads is frustrating and a little more complicated for fans, and has to be more frustrating for the players... Even if they don't say it. With Kevin Durant coming back healthy this year with a healthy supporting cast, this team shouldn't expect anything less than a championship.
How to fix the problem?
Defense is the key to this team competing in a 7-game series against the now, (20-0) Golden State Warriors (who can also play defense). Also, Billy Donovan has to figure out what he's going to do with these lineups. OKC has to figure out how they are going to play offensive and defensive players at the same time and which ones to play. Somebody also needs to motivate someone other than Dion Waiters, Andre Roberson and Steven Adams to play defense, or they need to start looking to trade someone for another 2-way player, preferably a big-man. Another alternative to that would be playing Enes Kanter and Steven Adams at the same time more often, because that would give the offense (Kanter) and defense (Adams) in the post at one time. What about Serge? Serge can be a dominant inside presence, but it honestly seems like he's embraced his perimeter game more so than his post game offensively, here lately.
Oklahoma City will try and stop this 2-game skid against the (7-12) Sacramento Kings back in the comfort of their own arena on Sunday at 6 p.m. Mentioned earlier, OKC is now (11-8) on the season and will try to improve to (12-8).