So we all know that the last four games have been a big success for the Thunder. The first of the four was the overtime loss to Dallas where KD went down in the fourth, and the Thunder almost pulled one out, but played surprising basketball without our big time scorer. The following three games were equally surprising considering that Jeff Green only played in the first, and Kevin Durant didn’t play in any of them. The Thunder’s play was so inspiring, that it resulted in Mark Cuban lambasting his team and threatening the players jobs for their effort against the lowly Thunder without it’s stars.
The Thunder did it with defense. If you watched, you noticed. No longer were the Thunder’s opponents in those last four games making big shot after big shot. No longer were they scoring at will. Now, suddenly the Thunder were making these other teams work hard to put points on the board-something we haven’t seen much of this year.
I crunched the numbers for the “four factors” for the last four games to illustrate just how these wins have been coming.
First of all the big picture. In the last four, OKC has had an offensive efficiency of 107 points per 100 possessions. That’s not too bad, league average is 107.9, so we are still right there even without our big guns. The Thunder’s defensive efficiency has been 101.35 points allowed per 100. That is really superb by any measure. The league average defense is also 107.9.
The four factors are the most important aspects that make up the offense and defense, and they tell the tale of our offensive and defensive performance in more detail. The four factors are shooting (eFG%), ball handling (turnover %), offensive rebounding (o-reb %) and getting to the line (FTM/FGA).
eFG% last four: 47.7%
eFG% season: 47.6%
eFG% league avg. 49.9%
Our team shooting has been almost exactly at our season average, yet still below the NBA league average.
TO% season avg: .150
TO% league avg. .135
Our high turnover rate has been even a bit higher than the season average.
OR% season: 29.3
OR% league avg.: 26.8
Our typically good rebounding has been even better of late. 31.4% of available offensive rebounds were grabbed by our guys. That would be second in the league.
Getting to the line:
FTM/FGA season: .247
FTM/FGA league avg: .238
Our season average of .247 is good for 10th best in the league, however, in the last four we’ve been very average.
Offensively, the four factors are showing that our offense is very average, to below average in most regards except offensive rebounding. Below is the defensive four factors for the Thunder in the last four games, the season and the league average.
Last four opponents eFG% =46.4%
Season avg: 51.4%
League avg: 49.9
Keep in mind, this is what we allow. On the season we allow opponents to shoot 51.4% eFG, which is above average (good for 24th in the league). However, in the last four, we’ve knocked that down to 46.4% eFG. That is just phenomenal. That’s right at Cleveland Cavs level, or best in the league.
Opp TO% last four: .133
Opp TO season: .127
Opp league avg: .135
Another area of improvement is forcing turnovers. In the last four, we’ve been getting our hands on more of the opponents passes than we have in prior games this season.
Opponent’s last fourDef reb%=74.4%
Season avg def reb%=74.5
League avg 73.2
Getting defensive rebounds is the same thing as not letting the opponent get offensive rebounds. We were already good, and the trend is about the same.
Getting to the line:
Opponent’s last four FTM/FGA=.192
league avg. .238
While playing much improved defense in the last four games, the Thunder haven’t been sending the opponents to the line by fouling.
The numbers bear out the conclusion that the Thunder have been playing great defense in these last four games. The eFG% allowed is a 10% improvement over the season average, we are playing the passing lanes with greater success and not fouling too much.
To me, the bigger roles of Thabo and Weaver, added to Westbrook’s already stiff defensive presence means that everything is being challenged on the wing. There isn’t really anyone for the opponent to exploit.
The lineup that has gotten the most minutes lately, featuring Collison, Krstic, Thabo, Weaver and Westbrook has an offensive efficiency of 113.33 points scored per 100 possessions, and has allowed 93.41 per 100. That is a +19.93!
The lineup that saw big minutes in the first and second games with Green, Krstic, Thabo, Weaver and Westbrook has an offensive efficiency of 105.5, and a defensive efficiency of 100; good for + 5.5.