The Thunder took a five-game winning streak into Sunday’s Game 1 matchup against the Trail-Blazers, but that quickly was out the door as OKC found themselves down 38-21 early after Lillard hit a three from 28 feet out to start the game. Before Game 2, Here are a few ways the Thunder can improve on Sunday’s loss:
The Thunder will undoubtedly be better shooting the ball, as they shot a franchise third worse percentage from three since relocating from Seattle when attempting at least 20 three-pointers (OKC shot 5-of-33 from three). After hitting 16 against the Rockets and 23 (!!) against the Bucks, still not too worried about the shooting, we were due for an off day. If OKC just increased the 15% night to 17 percent (two more makes) they would have left Portland with a win in Game 1. Look for OKC to not have the worst shooting night in the NBA for the rest of the playoffs.
He played pretty bad the entire first three quarters, either switching onto bigs during screens or picking up CJ McCollum who he couldn’t stay in front of. Schroder has been known to get hot in the fourth, which is exactly what he did. With just under nine minutes left the Thunder were down 84-77, and he dropped in two quick buckets back to back to cut it to 84-81. He was able to get hot at just the right time, but OKC can’t afford to wait until the fourth quarter for their bench leader to get hot. He showed what he can do last week draining eight threes against Milwaukee and taking over scoring 12 straight points against Minnesota to put away the T-Wolves. OKC’s bench has struggled down the stretch, and in the playoffs when stakes are higher, the bench leader Schroder has to take control while the starters rest.
Another OKC improvement that I look for Billy Donovan to make is making better use of Terrance Ferguson. It seems like he has finally gotten back to his January-February form, providing key three-and-D minutes that the Thunder so desperately need. He only played 16 minutes and didn’t play down the stretch. I think his great defense this year on McCollum will return and he will provide great minutes down the stretch, he just has to avoid picking up early fouls again.
No, I’m not worried about PG and you shouldn’t be either. He stated his slump was from an off rhythm, understandable since he hasn’t shot the ball since his game-winning three in Houston last week. Look for PG to catch fire in Game 2.
In the end, I’m not worried. We had the worst shooting night in the NBA this year and lost by five on the road. Heads up Thunder fans, we got this.