Missed shots will kill you
With Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony in your offense you’re going to be putting up some shots. Westbrook 11, George 19 and Anthony 26 shots the Thunder struggled to make shots in the first half as a team they shot 13-of-43 at 30.2 percent while the Jazz was shooting 17-of-39 at 43.6 percent leading to a 44-34 defect in the first half. The Thunder were never able to recover from there first half shooting woes this is something they’re going to need to address going forward going against the elite teams in the west you can’t not make shots and hope to stay in the game especially against sharpshooting teams like the Warriors and Rockets.
Keeping Westbrook out of the paint stops the Thunders aggression
Russell Westbrook finished the game with six points and seven turnovers in 36:01 minutes against the Utah Jazz this is the first time Westbrook has had more turnovers than points while playing more than 15 minutes since 3/24/2010. Rudy Gobert had a massive presence on the defensive side of the ball, and it kept Westbrook from attacking the paint restricting him to jump shots which lead to him finishing with 2-of-11 from the field at 18.2 percent and 1-of-5 from three-point range shooting at 20 percent. Not every team in the NBA has a Rudy Gobert on their side, but this could very well be a game opposition teams look at for a blueprint on how to stop the aggressiveness of Westbrook which in turn prevents the pace and flow of the Oklahoma City offense.
Defense is crucial to this teams success
The Thunder defense was only able to create eight fast break plays against the Jazz. In a game where they couldn’t hit a jump shot, they needed to build some easy points and momentum and the defense was not able to create any. Against the Knicks, we saw how good this defense could be tonight against the Jazz we saw the other side of the coin. The Thunder wasn’t able to switch as effectively as they have shown to be and it hurt them on the offensive side of the ball.
Creating offense from defense is going to be a massive part of this teams success. They have one of the best players in the world on a fast break in Westbrook you give him shooters in Anthony and George this team is going to be lethal but only if the defense can live up to there end of the deal tonight we saw what happens when it doesn’t.
Felton is what the doctor ordered
Last season when Westbrook went to the bench the offense died a miserable death which in turn either took away any lead Westbrook had built or made the defect more significant. There was no one running the point off of the bench that could keep the offense going and get defensive stops, unfortunately, Semaj Christon wasn’t capable. In the off-season, GM Sam Presti addressed that issue an went out and signed free agent Raymond Felton. Against the Jazz, Westbrook couldn’t hit a shot to save his life so when he went out of the game we got to see how valuable Felton is going to be for this team coming off the bench. Felton added eight points shooting 3-of-5 at 60 percent playing 18 minutes off the bench he was also valuable on the defensive side of the ball getting two steals and a rebound. It’s was good to see that not all hope is lost when Westbrook is off the court this season this team can keep everything together when Felton is out on the court running the point.
Utah are very very good
The Utah Jazz is a very well coached team that has some very talented players. They will be a factor when the playoffs come around with guys like Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles, Ricky Rubio and Joe Johnson coming off the bench this team is going to give a lot of teams trouble on both sides of the ball. Gobert gives them such a presence on defense especially in the paint he kept the Thunder from penetrating and settle for jump shots which were a big reason why the Jazz got the win today. Rubio is an excellent asset at point guard with his superb passing ability finishing with five assists he was able to find Ingles behind the three-point line who was ready to hit the three at will it seemed shooting 5-of-9 from behind the arc at 55.6 percent.We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!