At some point, we can’t overlook the inability of the Thunder to beat the top teams in the NBA. After their epic collapses to the Clippers and Warriors last week, there was a sign of hope as they beat the Clippers in the rematch. However, they got stung by the Timberwolves last night, and on the second of a back to back on the road, they could not sustain their 3rd quarter success and succumbed to the Spurs.
Let’s make one thing clear: they are running more clever Donovan good stuff on the offensive end. They went to the Westbrook/Durant Pick And Roll quite a bit in the 3rd quarter, and it continually opened up good shots for Durant. They also discovered some great sets that had Durant cutting around multiple screens across the court – the pin down by Adams for Durant was especially lethal.
However, as we’ve seen time and again, the Thunder reverted to their old isolation ways down the stretch, allowing the Spurs to make life miserable for them on that end.
Kawhi Leonard continues his assault on getting into the conversation for best player in the NBA. Not only does he lock down the best offensive players when the ball is in their hands, he creates havoc with his weakside help and deflections – the kind of plays that aren’t measured with stats, but by WINS. Time and again, Kawhi was there to not only be aggressive on offense and make clutch shots, but to get his mitts on pocket passes and rebounds.
Throughout the game, Westbrook vacillated between under control solid play and wild forays to the rim that ended up in turnovers and bad misses. And it was his awful decision to go for a steal from behind on Aldridge, leaving Danny Green wide open in the left corner for a three, that changed the whole complexion of the game.
There is no question the Thunder have enough talent to compete with the best in the West. With KD struggling mightily and Russ being inefficient in the first half, the Thunder still had a 4 point lead at halftime. They played some of the best defense on the Spurs that I had seen all season. But until they fully accept Billy Donovan’s gospel, they are going to be held back by a glass ceiling that hits them on the top of their heads in the second round of the Western Conference Playoffs.


Coach Nick

Coach Nick is the founder of BballBreakdown, coached the Triangle Offense at the high school level, and counts Tex Winter and Pete Newell as mentors. For more of our conversation, follow him @BBALLBREAKDOWN.

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