TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD 722)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM)
My apologies on the lack of Bolts today as I’m busy this week (I’m graduating Friday!) and so things are a bit hectic. Hectic in the sense of “I want to make sure I’m actually graduating.” Saturday night was a night meant for celebrating OU’s third straight Big 12 title and seeing as the Thunder lost – I thought I could skip out on a post game wrapper. Kind of like college: Every now and then you just feel like skipping class, even though I could have easily went. Oh well.
Tonight’s game against the Warriors has OKC returning to the Sooner State after a good week and a half spent on the road. Though the losses keep piling up, the team is finally playing solid basketball for four quarters. The pieces aren’t in place to win, but it’s clear something has changed for the better under Coach Brooks. No more of these 30 point holes to dig out of just to make it respectable.
And how about Russell Westbrook. He played easily his best game as a pro scoring 30 on 10-18 shooting. But lost in that line was his seven rebounds and also the fact he attempted only one three. He finally took smart shots for an entire game, didn’t force it to the rim and played within himself. I think this is a sign of things to come from Westbrook.
In the last two games of the road trip, Kevin Durant didn’t shoot well at all, didn’t assert himself and didn’t score. He had just 34 in the two games combined on 11-35 shooting. But even without his contributions, OKC lost by just six and nine, respectively. That’s good, I guess. In the sense that the team *tried* to pick up the slack for its off star.
With tonight’s game, Golden State wants to run and take quick shots. Under Coach Scotty, the Thunder have done a bit of the same. Jamaal Crawford gives the Warriors a complete other dimension to that run and gun style, because of his athleticism and ability to score in bunches. He’s fit right in to the system and is playing well. Though somehow, the Warriors have not. At all. One advantage the Thunder should have is on the boards, especially with the return of Nick Collison. He played extremely efficient against the Heat and adding him back into the rotation could be a big boost. The key is keeping Andris Biedrins off the boards as he pulls down 11.9 rebounds a game and I think the combo of Collison and Chris Wilcox should be able to limit him for the most part. Also, the Warriors play horrid defense, but so does OKC. So there should be some points scored tonight.
Right now, there’s just a consistency missing. When the Thunder’s playing great defense, they’re missing shots. When they’re knocking down everything, the defense and rebounding lacks. They’re doing enough to stay close for 48 minutes and at least give themselves a chance to win (unlike the first 12 games), but enough of this hanging around. Looking at the schedule, there’s some chances to get a few wins this December. The team is without a doubt playing better. It just has to get over the hump and why not start tonight at home against a very beatable opponent. The problem is other struggling teams see “Oklahoma City” on their schedule and they immediately think, “Sweet, here’s a chance to get back on track.” The Warriors have lost nine in a row. So the Thunder is going to need intensity and effort tonight and good performances and solid contributions from everyone to win this thing, because Golden State is seeing this game as their chance to break it.