After rocky start, Thunder now playing best basketball of season
The Thunder are playing their best basketball of the year.
It started with a victory at home against Golden State and it continued with a road, overtime win at Washington on Wednesday.
That’s four wins in a row overall, three of them coming on the road.
Two more games left on this trip and a few things to think about heading into Atlanta and Cleveland
It’s not early anymore. We’re past the halfway point of the season, and unlike other years in the recent past, there’s more of an urgency to look at the standings on regular occasion.
The Thunder are alone in ninth place, three games behind Phoenix. Phoenix has played two more games than the Thunder.
So far on this trip, OKC has whipped two average East teams and a good East team. At this point, after a dreadful start to the season, every win is crucial, but it’s too bad for the Thunder’s sake, that this recent three-game run didn’t come against West foes.
That will change in February. The Thunder will play six-consecutive West teams starting with two in a row against New Orleans on Feb. 4. They’ll take on Memphis twice in the next three weeks and also face the Clippers and the Mavericks â all of who are in front of the Thunder in the standings.
The Reggie Jackson saga
Since trade talks picked up shortly after Dion Waiters joined the Thunder, Reggie Jackson has quietly played good basketball, and that includes Wednesday’s near no-show against Washington.
In the past five games, Jackson is shooting 47.7 percent and saved the game in a 94-86 victory against Miami on Tuesday. Durant and Westbrook both struggled, but Jackson came to the rescue, going for 16 points on seven-of-nine shooting.
Jackson has been passed in the rotation by Waiters and is no longer the team’s Sixth Man. He played just 14 minutes against Washington and has averaged only 20.5 in the past five games, but Jackson hasn’t (seemingly) let it bother him. Jackson was four-for-six against Orlando and 7-of-12 against Houston. He struggled, 3-for-11 against Golden State, playing only 18 minutes, but Westbrook and Durant were magical that night.
If Jackson is on the move to another team, he’s helping himself by playing solid basketball.
With a pair of games against Atlanta and Cleveland coming up, Jackson could really showcase himself. He’s the kind of player, when he tries to get to the basket, who can save games by himself. Last season, in the playoffs, Jackson did just that against Memphis, and he did it again Tuesday at Miami.
The evolution of Steven Adams
A lot of the trade talk, in addition to possibly dealing one or more of the Thunder’s shooting guards, has centered around the center position and how the Thunder could use some more offense from that spot.
Well, there’s an argument to be made, and coach Scott Brooks has made it often times over the past several years, that every position doesn’t have to contribute with points. Brooks has said that in defense of Kendrick Perkins.
However, now the conversation is about Steven Adams. Adams has started all 42 games this season, the only player on the roster beside Serge Ibaka to do so. Adams is averaging 7.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, but Adams has looked more confident and played well against the Wizards when he had 20 rebounds in 39 minutes.
The Thunder don’t need offense from Adams or another center, like Brook Lopez, they need to create more opportunities for Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Meanwhile, Mitch McGary, could also provide some offensive help when he returns from injury.
Until then, expect Adams, with a little help from Perkins to be getting the bulk of the minutes. If he doesn’t worry about his offense and sticks to concerning himself with rebounding and defense, Adams will be just fine.
Wednesday in Washington, Westbrook skipped,
Getty may have the pic of the Thunder season with this skipping Russell Westbrook right here lol -> pic.twitter.com/bGnI6uBgaL
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) January 22, 2015
Perkins did some sort of weird, shoulder shake
Wonder what happens next? Maybe Adams with the Moonwalk? Perhaps Scott Brooks will do the Running Man.
With a pair of games that should be emotionally charged, you have to figure there is going to be some sweet moves.
Follow Andrew Gilman on Twitter: @andrewgilmanOK