Is it just me, or does the Thunder have a habit of coasting through the first half or even the first three quarters and then play with purpose in the latter stages of the game?
Numbers-based evidence is inconclusive. Perhaps the best indicator would be how many of Oklahoma City’s 24 wins featured comebacks from a halftime deficit, and the answer is eight. Exactly a third. That doesn’t strike me as a particularly high or low percentage, though two of those comebacks have come in the last four Thunder wins, and six have come in the last 14.
A look at the halftime numbers in Oklahoma City’s 13 losses is similarly inconclusive. The Thunder has been trailing at the break in eight of them and was tied twice. OKC narrowed the gap between halftime and the final horn in only three of the 13 L’s.
But … it certainly feels like the Thunder plays completely differently in the second half, doesn’t it? Especially in recent weeks. That almost half of the last 14 wins were come-from-behind affairs probably helps.
The last two Thunder-Mavericks contests are good examples of why it feels like Oklahoma City has a Jekyll-Hide routine early and late. In both games, the Thunder spotted the Mavs a double-digit lead before half of the rich “too cool to get to the game on time” crowd found its seats. (This happened in the Memphis and San Antonio games too, to cite other recent examples.) Then the Thunder clawed back to take a lead.
But that also shows why, if the Thunder really is playing with an on/off switch, that doing so is living dangerously. In the first of those two games, a home loss, Oklahoma City couldn’t hang on. Jason Terry killed the Thunder down the stretch. On Thursday night, it worked fine. OKC locked down on the defensive end, moved ahead in the third quarter and never relinquished the lead. But, like with the first Mavs game, that doesn’t always happen. I doubt anyone would argue it’s a good idea to spot someone a big early lead.
So what kinds of ills could the Thunder be suffering from that would lead them to play like this? Keep Reading…