Oklahoma City – The Thunder ended their three game road trip tonight against the Hawks and haven’t had any success in their first two games.
Tonight was going to be tougher given it was the last game of the road trip but they also were without their best player Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who was nursing an ankle injury.
Also, coming into the game the Hawks were on a 4 game winning streak and have seemed to figure things out after a very slow start to the season. It was going to be an interesting matchup because the Thunder have a pretty good defense while having a horrid offense and the Hawks have a pretty good offense but a horrid defense.
It was going to be interesting to see which strength would succeed and which weakness would get taken advantage of.
It wasn’t long before we got that answer because it was a fast paced first quarter and the Thunder offense looked very good while their defense was pretty bad.
The Thunder ended up falling to the Hawks 113-101 and ended their road trip 0-3. Here are the 3 things that didn’t go well for them tonight.
1) Uncharacteristically Bad Defense
The Thunder came into tonight ranked 13th in defense so their defense has been one of the bright spots of their season so far. It wasn’t tonight. The Hawks pretty much got whatever they wanted shooting 48.3% from the floor and 41.2% from 3. The Hawks are really good at taking care of the ball because they’re third best at not turning the ball over but the Thunder defense didn’t help because there wasn’t much ball pressure or movement overall for the Thunder on that end of the floor. It’s not something that should worry fans because like I said, the defense was uncharacteristically bad but it was a sore eye tonight.
2) Settled Too Much
The Thunder took 38 threes tonight and that might not seem like much for today’s NBA but the Thunder aren’t really a good three point shooting team and they weren’t particularly good threes. They ended up shooting 10-38 but a lot of those shots could have been better. They could have drove and kicked or made an extra pass on some of them. Some of them were early shot clock threes also. This has been a trend for the Thunder and it hurts their offense. Team for sure try to protect the paint against them so they kind of bait the Thunder into taking those threes but they need to show more discipline and stop settling. It would for sure help their offense.
3) Fast Break Points
The Thunder are the best defensive rebounding team in the league so they get plenty of stops. They had 34 defensive rebounds tonight which is four off of their league leading 38 defensive rebounds per game. They had pretty good pace tonight also. Yet, they only had 2 fast break points. They got plenty of stops but for some reason, they continue to not be able to generate any points in that area. Their reasoning has been they aren’t getting the stops to do so but the eyes say otherwise and the numbers support the eyes. There is probably only one guy that anyone would say couldn’t get the ball out of the rim and could push it and that’s Derrick Favors. Other than him, everyone else should push it and go and they do for the most part, But, for some reason, it has been very difficult for them to score in the fast break. Fixing this might be the biggest help to their offense other than just getting better players.
The Thunder were led by Josh Giddey who had 15 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds while Lu Dort had 15 points and 5 rebounds. Ty Jerome was good off the bench once again with his 15 points and 4 assists while Jeremiah Robinson Earl had another solid game with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Aleksej Pokusevski didn’t shoot it particularly well but did have 9 points to go with 10 rebounds.
The Thunder come back home on Wednesday night and look to end their 3 game losing streak against the Jazz.
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