Alarms are going off, but not time to panic yet
While most of the time we don’t write these sunshine pumping pieces saying HOLD ON. YOU CAN DO IT. I do want to point out that it may not be time to panic… yet.
When I say yet, I mean, despite being approximately 30 percent through the season, the Thunder are only 3½ games out of fourth place in the Western Conference. That’s really a short win streak and the Thunder are back in it.
A couple of things I look at when I’m sitting here trying to think of why I should tell you not to panic and the first thing I immediately think of is injury. Sure, they’re inevitable. Unless you’re super lucky (see Thunder’s run to the finals), you’re going to have players get hurt. However, with the what happened this week, two of the three losses this week were with starters out. The Thunder definitely missed George in the loss to the Nets. Against Charlotte, the best perimeter defender on the team was hurt and it led to the Hornets making 52 percent of their threes.
If the Thunder are fully healthy, those games probably flip the script and Oklahoma City is sitting above .500 and fifth in the West. That’s how close things are right now in the Western Conference.
The offense sucks but you still have Russell Westbrook. He’s starting to revert to “Let Westbrook be Westbrook” form. However, he’s still not up to his old speed. He’s career low numbers and those are turning around. While they’re not pretty by any stretch of the imagination, the reigning MVP winner will figure this out and throw out a couple straight weeks of spectacular play that will remind everyone of why he’s that good and why he won the award last season.
At this point, some of the issues have to be mental. We’re seeing frustrations come out through Carmelo Anthony leaving before press availability last night. We’re seeing Westbrook revert back to short, curt answers. At least this is showing they care in some ways. While Paul George says this isn’t the team they should be because of all the talent, the Thunder know if they don’t fix things, the season will go down the toilet.
However, this team really just needs a confidence booster. A big win over someone once again. If the Thunder can head into Monday’s game with the Denver Nuggets on a three-game win streak, all of these issues will seem as if it was a distant nightmare.
If they go into Denver 1-2 or heaven forbid, a three-game losing streak, it’ll be time to press that panic button and figure out some drastic moves.
There are 11 games remaining until 2018. The most important 11 games in recent history. Oklahoma City has to find some momentum, going 8-3, 7-4 or a preferable 9-2 over that stretch. Of those 11 games, seven are at the Peake. Three against divisional foes and one against the Rockets. The rest should find Oklahoma City to be heavily favored in. There are some –should be– gimme wins from Atlanta and Denver in Oklahoma City.
11 games. Find away. Fix this season. Save someone’s job.