Five Thoughts 3-29-18 (Spurs 103, Thunder 99)

1. The rollercoaster can be really fun. It’s exhilarating and can get your heart pumping. The adrenaline rush is amazing the first time you make that turn or go through the loop. And the rollercoaster can also make you want to puke. It can make you wish it would just stop and you could get your feet back on the ground. This Thunder season has been all of the above. It is absolutely maddening that every time they’ve appeared to turn the corner or elevate their play they follow it up with a slump or curious effort that makes you wonder if they will even make the damn playoffs. Then, right when you are ready to bail on them and just accept it as a failed experiment they go out and destroy the Warriors at Oracle or win a thriller in Toronto or rattle off seven in a row, six in a row…The inconsistency is incredible. It isn’t even that it’s a consistent inconsistency. It isn’t like when they are bad it’s because they struggle offensively or defensively. Sometimes it’s one, sometimes it’s the other. Then they will randomly take a major strength (rebounding) and for one or two nights they get beat on the boards and it costs them a game. The thing that probably keeps the glimmer alive for me is that you don’t have to be consistent in the playoffs. You can lose three times in seven games and still win a series. Thunder could essentially keep doing what they do and if things hit in the right places at the right times, they can still be very dangerous. Scott Van Pelt always asks the question “how good is your good?” For the Thunder, their good is REALLY good. Like, REALLY good. But it’s also fleeting. Very hard to guess or gauge what things will look like in a couple of weeks when everything changes— assuming of course that they make it there in the first place.

2. Continuing on the maddening theme, Russ and Adams have been out of this world lately. Dominating. Tonight, they were terrible. Both of them. This may have been the worst game Adams has played all year. Very rare to be able to say this, but he got his arse handed to him by Aldridge tonight. Not only was Aldridge scoring on him early, Adams also appeared to be a step slow and little tentative. And he couldn’t finish near the rim worth a damn at all. With 1:00 to go and down by one, Adams allowed LMA to slip right by him for an easy drive and dunk. Just a really terrible night for a guy who has been a rock for the Thunder all year. And Russ? My God he was dreadful in the fourth quarter. WTF was that? One thing he has really cleaned up this year is the RDS— Really Dumb Shot. At the end of the game tonight he went bonkers with the RDS; maybe getting them all out of his system at once perhaps? He was also sloppy with the ball, struggling to make simple passes and driving the ball wildly with nowhere to go. He has been brilliant in the fourth quarter lately, and really for two years now. He and Adams both get a pass for a bad night given how well they’ve played, but SOB it’s the story of the season that they pick the same night to crap themselves.

3. Donovan is going to put me on blood pressure meds with his silly usage of TFerg and Abrines. I don’t care if I make it one of my thoughts after every game, it’s driving me crazy. TFerg is NOT READY FOR A REAL ROLE ON A CONTENDING TEAM. Abrines may not be either, but now is the time to find out about him once and for all. He’s shown signs lately of being a contributor. But his minutes are so limited that there is no chance for him to get anything going. Keeping him cold on the bench until the fourth quarter is just stupid. It puts an awful lot of pressure on him. I’m glad Donovan has cut Huestis out and gone to a 10 man rotation. That’s smart. But it really needs to be more a 9 man at this point and Abrines should be ahead of TFerg. Then you can insert the rookie if someone gets hurt or there is foul trouble or the score dictates extending the bench. Right now neither player is being put in a great position to succeed.

4. I wanted two out of three during this stretch of games between tonight and Sunday night. I would have preferred this be one of the two for tie-breaker purposes but it really doesn’t matter. The pressure is on now to win tomorrow against Denver and in NOLA on Sunday evening. Thunder were rolling at six in a row. Then, the Boston choke seems to have derailed them. They must get back on track immediately. Beyond the obvious playoff implications, there are only six games left to get the mojo right— although with this team maybe that doesn’t matter? Maybe the team is a lot like Russ: win or lose, good or bad, sink or swim, what happened yesterday simply doesn’t affect tomorrow. Every game, heck every possession is like a blank slate. In the short term though, a loss at home to Denver would put OKC back into “uh oh” territory. Right now they are still in pretty good shape. A lot of the other teams are shaky right now too. These next two games are legit important. If they win them, the last four games may not be all that tense depending on other results. If they split them they likely stay about where they are and the last four will dictate everything. If they lose them both, it’s absolutely red button time.

5. Thing is, while it makes you feel sick sometimes, riding the rollercoaster is still a lot more fun than just sitting on the bench. Ride is eventually gonna end. But I’m not ready for that yet.

 

Ed Kleese is a long-time Thunder season ticket holder and a smart Thunder fan. You can read all his work on his own personal blog.

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Ed Kleese