It’s a little funny to hear the Thunder talk so often about “early energy” and “bringing effort from tipoff.” That’s often the easy excuse for a slow start — that they’re flat.
But that’s also what one might call a trend.
Wednesday against the Grizzlies, the Thunder actually started well. The team will tell you it was simply because they brought more effort and energy. But in reality, it was probably more because the Grizzlies starting lineup matches up with Oklahoma City’s better than most. With Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, it makes a whole lot of sense to have Kendrick Perkins on the floor. At least in terms of one end of the floor.
Remove Wednesday’s game and you know what the Thunder’s worst lineup has been for OKC this season in terms of plus/minus? The starting five — Westbrook, Sefolosha, Durant, Ibaka and Perkins. The first seven minutes of Wednesday’s game, the Thunder were a +3 with their starting five, and for the game, that lineup was a +3. Granted, the sample size is still thin with only nine games in the books, bit for the season the starting unit is overall a -7 in about 149 minutes.