I don’t usually deviate from my blog script, but last week’s blog about the L.A. Clippers instead of the Oklahoma City Thunder was, in my estimation, absolutely necessary given the fact both the Clippers’ and Lakers’ are the talk of the town despite OKC holding the best overall record in the NBA at 28-8. It’s not to say OKC is not worthy of conversation, it’s just not Hollywood;- and we all know Hollywood rules!! So they say.
As I just mentioned, the OKC Thunder are a league best 28-8, but I hate to have to be the one to tell you that an NBA Championship is not in the cards for the Thunder this year, and this time it won’t be because of David Stern. This OKC team reminds me-in many ways- like the 2006 Dallas Mavericks. A team that scores in bunches (105.7 per-leads the NBA), shoots well from the 3-pt line(39.6% also 1st-NBA), 1st in ft% at 84%- which is a crucial element come playoff time- and are 3rd overall from the field at 48.9%. These are the types of offensive numbers that can win you a regular season and maybe a playoff round or two, but is it enough to win it all? That’s the million dollar question. Let’s not forget: Live by the jumper, die by the jumper; anyone who watches the NBA knows Durant, Westbrook, and Kevin Martin are all volume shooters!!! No matter how much of an offensive threat a team is, establishing an inside presence and defense are key components to winning a title.
When it comes to rebounding the ball, the numbers are contradictory to say the least. They rank 24th overall in offensive rebounding with 379 (lg avg-417), and 7th in defensive rebounding with 1182. This contradiction gets lost in the fact that OKC is 10th in the league in pts allowed at 96.5. I’m not suggesting that defense is totally absent in OKC, i’m merely pointing out the fact that offensive rebounding deficiency has a funny way of rearing it’s ugly head the further you advance in the playoffs. The game is shortened and slowed down in the playoffs; long jumpshots lead to long run-outs for the other team.
Free-throws are not only playoff crucial, but it’s an area where the Thunder(84%-NBA best) don’t have any worries as long as they can maintain it during the pressure packed moments that each playoff round brings. Despite all the fancy, more games are won/lost at the free-throw line than they are by taking jumpshots. Look it up.
OKC on paper can run/outrun any team that’s put in front of them on any given day. The absence of Ibaka’s 14.3 per/g on the inside, Westbrook’s ability to make good decisions and control “game tempo”, and Durant posting up like Dirk in 2010, will not only have their fans’ “running for the exits”, but send OKC home with another silver medal.