The Oklahoma City Thunder were absolutely obliterated by the Houston Rockets on the road in game 1 of the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, 118-87. Oklahoma City hung around in the first half, but were outscored by 29 in the second half. Here are my five thoughts from a disappointing Thunder performance.
Too much bad Russ
Westbrook struggled heavily throughout the game, and just couldn’t snap out of it. He was six of 23 from the floor, along with nine turnovers. His supporting cast outside of Roberson (we’ll get back to him later on) didn’t help much, but that’s no excuse for how bad Russell was tonight. If there is one thing we do know, though, it is that Westbrook will definitely bounce back from tonight.
Thunder frontcourt was embarrassed
From Steven Adams and Taj Gibson, to Enes Kanter. The Oklahoma City big men were embarrassed tonight. They got worked over by Houston’s Clint Capela and Nene. Those two scored at ease all night, and gave Houston so many second chances because the Thunder refused to secure rebounds. Kanter was probably the biggest problem, because his defense looked like it had regressed back to its old ways. He could not move his feet, and had no idea how to help on defense. Oklahoma City’s chances on Wednesday to tie this series up will hinge on how well Thunder’s bigs play.
Too much switching
The Thunder’s defensive game plan was clear from the beginning: to switch on the Harden pick and rolls. The game plan was far different from what we saw from Oklahoma City in the regular season, and wasn’t necessarily wrong, even though the Thunder lost by 31. The main problem, to me, was Oklahoma City’s big men getting switched onto Harden. James would then get easily to the rim or create space and get an open jumper. A change I would like to see is the Thunder guards fighting over those screens and not leaving Adams or Kanter out on an island to get torched. There doesn’t necessarily need to be a defensive game plan overhaul, but definitely some much needed tweaks.
Playoff Roberson is back
In an ugly, frustrating game, Andre Roberson was a huge bright spot. He began the game hitting back to back three-pointers, and was great from there on out on both ends. He ended up with a playoff career-high 18 points, including four three-pointers. Last season Roberson was huge in Oklahoma City’s playoff success, being a two-way type player. If Oklahoma City can get things back on track, this play from Roberson could pay off big time.
Try not to overreact
It was downright embarrassing how the Thunder played tonight. 31-point loss, effort was questionable by some guys, and they looked totally outmatched. But it is important to remember it is a seven game series, and adjustments will be made. Also, some things happen that won’t necessarily happen again. For example, Westbrook and Oladipo will be better offensively, and Patrick Beverley will most likely cool down from three-point land. That said, Oklahoma City is in a bad matchup. Odds aren’t really on their side with a game 1 blowout loss, but we saw that last season versus San Antonio in the Western Conference semifinals. The Thunder will have to be better all around to have a chance. It’s just game 1, but the they will have to play with a lot bigger sense of urgency on Wednesday in game 2We 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!