The Oklahoma City Thunder must start winning close games
The Oklahoma City Thunder couldn’t survive a second-half rally by the Milwaukee Bucks. The Thunder have to win these close road games going forward.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have officially kicked-off their tough stretch of road games for the month of January. This month will be a true testament to how mentally tough this team is. After making the Los Angeles Clippers look worse than Mariah Carey on New Year’s Eve, the Thunder dropped a winnable game in Milwaukee 94-98.
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Russell Westbrook flirted hard with a triple-double tallying 20 points, seven rebounds, and six assists in the loss. Enes Kanter was a ghost for the first time in a number of games going 1-of-6 from the floor. The most problematic element of this game was the three-point shooting, the Thunder shot 9-of-27 from three.
The Thunder scored just 46 points in the paint in the loss. While that may seem like a high number, the Thunder average over 50 points in the paint a game. This resulted in too many three-point shots and Kanter only getting six shots on the night.
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The Oklahoma City Thunder must control the post. We all know this Thunder squad falls in love with the three-point shot sometimes. However, Kanter getting just six shots despite his struggles should not happen. Also, the Thunder must control the glass which they did do, 40 to 39.
The Thunder’s success rate depends on the contrast between Westbrook’s assist and how many shots he takes. Westbrook took a total of 13 shots against the Clippers. All-be-it he played 29 minutes in that contest. Westbrook shot 38 times from the floor against the Bucks.
Now, this isn’t a let’s bash Westbrook post. However, his Dr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde persona is somewhat living from home game to road game. In the Memphis game, prior to his ejection, he shot 19 times from the floor and six times from three.
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The Thunder have to do two things on the road to win tough games. The first thing is cutting back on three-point shots. I’ve said this all season, this team is not a good three-point shooting team. Westbrook should instantly feed the paint and establish the big men. Steven Adams shot 9-of-11 from the floor for 20 points on the night. However, the rest of the low-block shot a combined 13 shots between four players.
The second thing the Thunder must do is spread the wealth. Westbrook can’t shoot 38 times from the floor and the Thunder win games, other players must make shots. Only three Thunder players took more than 10 shots versus the Bucks. That number has to increase across the board, and the players also have to make shots.
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The Thunder have some tough games against the Eastern Conference on the horizon. They’ll match-up against Charlotte in Queen City, Wednesday at 6 pm.