Author - Ed Kleese

5 thoughts from Utah

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.

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5 Thoughts: Opening Night

The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New York Knicks 105-84 on Thursday, Oct. 19 in front of the 300th sell out crowd in the 10 years of Thunder basketball. Here are five thoughts to Thursday’s win.

Defense will be the foundation of this team.

The Oklahoma City Thunder third generation is here. The defense created 26 turnovers against the New York Knicks. Switching was a big part of the Thunder’s defense which resulted in sometimes Westbrook guarding seven foot three Kristaps Porzingis. In those 26 turnovers, there was 14 steals five of those coming from big man Steven Adams. All preseason the big three of OKC have said they want to be the number one defensive team in the league and you can see why when it leads to them being so devastating on offense.

Russell Westbrook’s evolution is going to be lethal

Russell Westbrook shot the ball 12 times in the opening game against the Knicks. He had one shot from behind the arc. That ladies and gentleman Is called evolution. Now, will this minimum three-point shooting continue throughout the season? We’ll see, what we did notice is that Westbrook taking less three’s makes him more efficient and effective for the Thunder’s offense. Westbrook played 33:18 minutes scoring 21 points, 10 rebounds and 16 assists shooting 7-of-12 from the field at 58.3 percent. One question has been a constant since the acquisition of George and Anthony. Who will sacrifice out of those three? A lot of people have been saying George, and a lot have said Anthony, but it was Westbrook last night who showed he will sacrifice his game for his new teammates making sure he hit them when they were open sacrificing his shot for George and Anthony. Be careful what you ask for NBA fans Westbrook is evolving, and he is getting even better, and it’s terrifying.

 Paul George and Carmelo Anthony are the help Russell needed

Paul George and Carmelo Anthony took a combined 43 shots making 17 of those. It wasn’t the most efficient night, but you could see what is going to happen this year with the offense. Westbrook got both guys plenty of open shots, but they just couldn’t finish.

“He’s always going to attract two (defenders), he’s always going to have the defense collapsing,” George said. “A lot of times I’m going to be catching it wide open and more times than not I’ve got to make them pay for it.”

“Offensively it’s on us to make those shots. I think for myself, if I can speak for PG, we’ve got to get used to those shots,” Anthony said. “We’re not used to having open looks like that, being wide open for shots like that. We’ve got to get comfortable with that and those shots. Those shots will fall.”

 Steven Adams is essential to this teams success

Steven Adams presence in the starting five is crucial on defense and offense with his size and his athleticism. On the defensive side of the ball, Adams had five steals and was able to switch efficiently. On offense, his pick and roll play with Westbrook was back to its absolute best as also was their connection on Westbrook backdoor lobs. Adams finished with 12 points, five rebounds and one assist shooting 5-of-5 field goals at 100 percent three blocks five steals on 29:36 minutes.

 Porzingis is so good

Kristaps Porzingis is an absolute problem for any team. At seven foot three, he’s unguardable. Porzingis had the Knicks In the game and competing in the first half scoring 19 points with nine rebounds shooting 7-of-14 from the field goals at 50 percent with one block. In the second half, Porzingis went missing, and the Thunder’s big three took over, and it showed with Porzingis going from 50 percent from the field down to 36.4 percent that was thanks to OKC stepping up their defensive pressure. Porzingis can lead this Knicks team to an eighth seed In the east if he can stay healthy.

Bonus Thought: Darci Lynn was incredible

Because of the Big Three, we’re giving you a bonus thought and that is Darci Lynn was amazing. The current winner of this season’s America’s Got Talent dominated the halftime stage as barely anyone left their seats. Oklahoma City rarely captivates an audience with a halftime show and last night they did with pizzazz. I don’t think I’ve seen Red Panda, arguably the greatest halftime show in sports history, get this much respect. Petunia was our favorite. Hands down.

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Three things from Oklahoma City’s first preseason game

While the Thunder took a loss on Tuesday evening in Tulsa to the Houston Rockets 104-97, the debut of Carmelo Anthony and Paul George in their Thunder uniforms lived up to the hype. The Rockets hit tons of threes but for the Thunder, there were some things that stuck out. Here are three things I saw:

Melo looked like old school Melo

While it was only a half of a preseason game, Carmelo Anthony found his rhythm early and was efficient. He went on streaks of hitting three and four shots in a row. His ability to find the rim really was a flashback to his time in Denver. Oklahoma City can be in a great spot if we see this on the regular. It’s unknown if that’s going to happen but if it does, look out league.

Anthony finished 7-of-13 from the field and 3-of-5 from deep. If it wasn’t for Anthony, the Thunder would have been in such a bigger hole. His four shots in a row in the second quarter, closed a 12-point deficit down to a six.

Isaiah Canaan fits well

The kid who dropped 31 points against Oklahoma City shot well and was one of the rare bench performances where the bench was obsolete at times. Canaan was 2-of-4 from deep and was a ball full of energy. Imagine JJ Barea but not nearly as annoying.

It’s going to be a long shot if he makes the roster. While Oklahoma City loves keeping three point guards on the roster, there is Semaj Christon, who did not play tonight, and Raymond Felton. Canaan will need some more performances like this one to make this roster.

Andre’s shot is still broken

The best part is Andre Roberson doesn’t have to shoot a lot. While Roberson was 1-of-2 from the field, his only miss was a horrible miss.

He’s going to need to be better if he’s going to be a quality starter. If Roberson goes to the bench, he’s essentially useless on this team. His defense is the main part of why he’s starting. He’s one of the best perimeter defenders in the association. However, he’s completely the opposite when it comes to three-point shooting.

After all, this is one game and really one shot. It’s the first preseason game of the season. So, there is literally no lower he can go and should improve drastically as the preseason continues.

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5 Thoughts: Thunder dominate 76ers (3-22-17)

5 thoughts

OKLAHOMA CITY CONSISTENCY

With their victory over the 76ers, Oklahoma City improved their record to 41-30, guaranteeing themselves a winning record for the 8th straight season. The Thunder are one of only three teams in the NBA to accomplish this feat, joining them with the Houston Rockets and the San Antonio Spurs. This stat is truly remarkable and speaks to the great consistency the organization has achieved since its arrival in Oklahoma City. Out of all the teams in the NBA, only three have had winning seasons for the past eight years, and the Thunder is one of them. Thunder fans should be proud of this stat.

DOWN LOW PRESENCE ELITE

Oklahoma City absolutely dominated down low against the 76ers. It out rebounded Philadelphia 54-25, which was the largest rebounding margin in Thunder history. The 76ers didn’t have an answer for the Thunder’s bigs all night, as Oklahoma City outscored Philadelphia 76-50 in the paint. Since the addition of Taj Gibson, Oklahoma City’s interior has gone from formidable to elite. Damontis Sabonis looks much more comfortable coming off the bench, and Gibson looks like a natural fit into the starting lineup. Enes Kanter scored 24 points with 11 rebounds on 8-of-9 shooting last night, helping to boost the second unit. With Adams, Gibson, Kanter, and Sabonis, Oklahoma City should be able to bully most teams down low.

TRIPLE DOUBLE WATCH

Russell Westbrook finished last night’s game with 18 points, 14 assists, and 11 rebounds. What made this triple double special, however, was his efficiency in doing so. Westbrook shot 6-of-6 from the field, and also 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. He became the first player in NBA history to finish with a triple double without missing a shot from the field or free-throw line. It was Westbrook’s 35th triple double of the season and 72nd of his career. If Westbrook can notch six triple doubles over Oklahoma City’s final 11 games, he will tie Oscar Robertson’s single season record for triple doubles at 41.

BRETT BROWN CAN COACH

I repeat, Brett Brown can coach. Even as the 76ers were getting pummeled throughout the second half, Brown continued to coach hard, even calling a timeout with just over three minutes left in the game with the outcome already clearly decided. The 76ers deserve some credit as well, for sticking it out with Brown and not giving up on him. It was clear when he arrived in Philadelphia that rebuilding was needed, but I doubt anyone in the organization expected “The Process” to be as rough as it has been. Brown has stuck it out through the tough times, however, and now the whole organization is beginning to reap the benefits. To this point in the season, Philadelphia has already won 16 more games this year than they did last year.

PHILADELPHIA COULD BE A MARQUEE GAME SOON

Things have been rough in Philly for a few years now, but they’re closer than people think to being a playoff team in the East. A lot of their success will depend on whether they can keep their best players healthy. Joel Embiid is out for the season with a knee injury, and is also now drawing comparisons to Greg Oden due to his inability to stay on the court. Ben Simmons is waiting in the wings for next season after losing this season due to a foot injury. If Simmons, Embiid, Dario Saric, and Jahlil Okafor all can stay healthy, Philadelphia will have a solid core to build their organization around. Watch out for the 76ers in a few years.

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