What Is The Sound Of One Million Basketball Fans Jumping Off The Thunder Bandwagon?
The Oklahoma City Thunder were beaten soundly the Lakers last night, 111 to 87. Predictably, all the supposed Thunder “fans” are jumping off the wagon faster than those kids from the Sandlot fleeing the tree house after their vacuum cleaner plan went awry. From a logical standpoint, they’re probably right. If I were a betting man, I’d probably put my money on the Lakers.
I don’t know, though. There’s something about this Thunder team that makes me think they can still win this thing. Granted, this is coming from the same guy who habitually picks Gonzaga as his NCAA champion, so maybe I am biased about underdogs. A few observations on what the Thunder can do to win this series:
-Andrew Bynum played way above his head last night. He isn’t a terrible player by any stretch, but 21 points on 8-of-10 from the field? That’s not going to continue. On the other end, the Thunder “centers” played awful. Krstic in particular played poorly, missing wide open jumpers, getting dunked on, and generally looking like he belongs in a men’s league game, not a first round NBA playoff game.
-Kobe Bryant is also playing like an old man, albeit a really talented, athletic old man. Sure, he’s doing a decent job distributing the ball and dumping it into the Lakers’ big guys, but at this point I’m not nearly as worried about Kobe as I am about Gasol. Going along with that, it’s probably time for the Thunder to play Thabo Sefolosha less. They should play James Harden more and put Durant or Jeff Green on Kobe. This allows them to spread the floor more efficiently, and it gives the viewers more chances to see the most epic beard in NBA history.
-Thunder players not named Durant or Harden should never take a three unless absolutely necessary. Jeff Green supposedly shot 34% from three on the season, but every time he takes one I cringe.
-The key to the next 1 or hopefully 2 games lies in the beginning of the games. The Thunder need to get out to a good start. It’s unreasonable to expect them to get back in the game when they’re down 15 or 16, given their severe lack of size and their less than stellar three point shooting. They also need to do everything they can to force the tempo against the slower and older Lakers. A measly 7 fast break points is not going to cut it.
Certainly winning this series is going to take a Herculean effort from OK City (still haven’t gotten used to the fact that there’s a professional sports team based in this city), but I don’t think they’re out of it yet. If they can get this next win at home, who knows what will happen in Game 7? I’m just rooting to keep Durant, Westbrook, and Harden’s beard in the playoffs for as long as possible.