The Oklahoma City Thunder’s road show continued this week, with three of four away from the friendly confines of Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Thunder won its home game, but dropped two out of three on the road en route to a 2-2 week.
SIX THINGS FROM THE WEEK
Russell Westbrook from Three. In a loss against the Houston Rockets, Westbrook converted 8 threes, the most he’s ever made in a single game in his career. But it’s misses, like the pull-up three with 5 seconds to go in a tie game, that draw the biggest spotlight. Though Westbrook is making threes at a career-high rate of 34%, he ranks dead last in three-point percentage among players who have taken more than 200 threes. As a result, it’s a risk-reward proposition when Westbrook is launching threes. It pays off handsomely when he’s hitting 7-12 as he did against the Nuggets, but it’s as equally frustrating when he goes 2-12 as he did in a loss to the Charlotte Hornets this past week.
One. Maybe he was sick, but how about the work the Thunder, specifically Andre Roberson, did on Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls? Just a single point on 0-6 shooting in 29 minutes. It was Butler’s worst output this season. In fact, it’s the first time in Butler’s career that he played 29 or more minutes and failed to register more than a single point. As a team, the Thunder’s defense was excellent, holding the Bulls to just 40.5% shooting from the field, 4 fast-break points, and 36 points in the paint.
Beating Up on Weaker Opponents. With the win over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, the Thunder improved their record versus teams worse than .500 to 15-5. Just 2.5 games separate the fourth-seeded Clippers from the seventh-seeded Thunder, so piling up wins against the league’s lesser teams could be critical in playoff seeding. That being said, the Thunder’s 8-11 record versus teams .500 or better doesn’t instill much confidence for a deep playoff run. So let’s just say, it’s good the Thunder are beating the teams they should, but winning a few more toss-up games could really go a long way.
Stache Brothers, More Like Field Goal Percentage Brothers. Oklahoma City is the only team with a pair of teammates in the top 10 in field goal percentage. Among qualified players, Steven Adams ranks fifth in the NBA at 61% and Enes Kanter ranks eighth at 57%. When accounting for volume, Adams and Kanter rank first and third, respectively, among players with at least 300 shot attempts. I think maybe it’s time to give the “Splash Brothers” moniker to more deserving players–the Thunder’s Stache Brothers.
Hack a Robes. Late in the game, with the Thunder’s lead growing, the Nuggets resorted to the “Hack-A-Terrible-FT-Shooter” strategy, twice fouling Roberson intentionally. Roberson made them pay, making all four, but Roberson’s free-throw shooting is a serious concern. On the season, Roberson is just 39.7% from the free thrown line. If Roberson continues his horrid pace, he has a chance to complete a feat accomplished by just four players since 1946: converting less than 40% from the line while playing over 2,400 minutes.
A Little Too Accurate. It wasn’t intentional, but the aim by Westbrook to nail referee Tre Maddox in the head is pretty impressive.
AND ONE MORE MAKES SEVEN
Finger Wag. Epic chase-down block followed by an even more epic finger wag by Roberson.