If Russell Westbrook doesn’t get control of his game, the Thunder are in trouble. I LOVE the Honey Badger and his carefree attitude. However, if we are truly going to be a NBA Title contender, he needs to get in control. ASAP.

Keys to Game 2

Turnover Control: your turnovers!! Grizzlies had 23 points off 19 Thunder turnovers. Russell had 7 of them, KD 3. Eric Maynor had 2 in 10 minutes. Had he played Westbrook’s minutes (38), Maynor might had 8 turnovers. So, Maynor needs to be a facilitator of the game not a compromiser. Many times the Thunder would be in transition and a careless play would result in a wasted opportunity. Need to play smarter.

Rebounding: Memphis had 17 offensive rebounds. It seemed like EVERY single one of them came right when the Thunder tried to make a run. BLOCK OUT!!!  The Thunder had 16. However, couldn’t tell by the way the game was going. For the first time this season, Memphis out rebounded the Thunder.

Zack Randolph: You can’t stop this guy. Kevin Durant called him the best power forward in the NBA. Perkins, Collison, Ibaka, Muhammad all need to come with their A game. force him out of his cover zone. He doesn’t attack the basket. He likes to isolate his defender and then take a jump shot. Must get physical with him and not allow him to just hit jumpers. Not to mention going back to point #2, blocking out. Had three put backs on offensive rebounds.

Isolation jumper (12) right wing (Ibaka)
Isolation jumper (12) left wing (Ibaka)
Transition layup (And 1) (Durant) (Westbrook)
Isolation jumper (10) left wing (Collison)
Isolation jumper (15) left elbow (Perkins)
3PT Jumper (26) (Perkins)
Layup (2nd chance) (No defender)
Fouled (FT x 2) (Off Turnover) (Westbrook)
*** At this point in the 3rd quarter OKC went small ball with Ibaka in at center***
Layup (2nd chance) (Ibaka)
Layup (2nd chance) (Perkins) (Ibaka)
Spot up (18) left baseline (Perkins)
Layup (Perkins)
Spot up (18) left elbow (Ibaka)

That’s 28 points of ZBo’s 34. Need to realize he’s going to get his. Stop the isolation, and you’ll be able to limit his chances. Force him to get his chances on penetration and at the free throw line. Body up. However, He’s a good free throw shooter, 75% on the season, 85% for the postsesason. Be physical, but do not foul.

Free Throw Shooting: This is going to be a prayer personally. The Grizzlies got to the line on average of 24.2 times in the regular season. Averaging 26.3 in the postseason. Need to limit the charity strip opportunities. This starts by keeping Randolph off the line.

Energy: Thunder players James Harden and Russell Westbrook openly admit a lack of energy. You need to come out and play with a fire that can renew the fire of the fans. For some reason the fans were like the players. Lethargic and uninspired.  I do see this improving.

Couple of key stats.

We need to get to the rim more. hitting 67.8% of our shots at the rim. Ranks 2nd in the NBA. Memphis is 16th in the league. However, Memphis is 6th team in the league from 3-9 feet. We’re last. from 10-15 feet. we’re 12th, they’re 22nd. We need to get to the rim. Keep memphis out of the 3-9 foot range.

Obviously, I love stats.
I was curious to what our record was when Russell Westbrook averages 8 or more assists… so, I did a little digging…

35-10 when RW averages more than 8 assists.
Losses to Boston, San Antonio, Dallas, @Houston, Phoenix, @Denver, @Hornets, Miami, Memphis, @Clippers.
Just 20-17 when he has less than 8 assists.

boom! That could be your ball game!

Fact is you can’t play perfect every game. I expect to have the series tied 1-1 at the end of the night.

Thunder up!

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Chuck Chaney

Founder & Editor-in-Chief.
Member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.