Win or go home.
Suddenly, it’s not just the Golden State Warrior anymore. If anything, this is now truer than ever in the case of the OKC Thunder. The Game 6 loss is a stinger, and no matter how confident this bunch is, there is no way that setback could not get inside your head.
However, as Kevin Durant said, there’s still one more game to play for both teams and for the Thunder, it’s good to know they have prevailed at Oracle Arena before. Here are the 3 things the OKC Thunder can to do to win Game 7 and advance to the NBA Finals:
1. More Enes Kanter
Enes Kanter has had a great series against San Antonio but turns out to be the odd man out in the Western Conference finals. That is somewhat foreseeable because among the three big men on the Thunder’s rotation (with Steven Adams and Serge Ibaka), Kanter struggles defending the pick-and-roll, which is the Dubs’ staple.
But then again, if need be, Kanter can provide the difference offensively, especially in a situation similar in Game 6 where the Thunder superstars shot brick after brick. You cannot do much to prevent those impossible treys from Klay Thompson, but Billy Donovan could have done/tried something about the stagnant Thunder offense.
Having said that, Kanter is a legitimate post threat and an excellent offensive rebounder that could have put pressure on Golden State’s defense. Case in point, the Turkish big man posted the highest plus/minus rating among Thunder players with a +15 in 10 minutes of play. He finished with 8 points, 3 rebounds, and a block.
2. Defend the three-point line
The Warriors has somehow pulled off a Game 5 victory while seemingly abandoning their three-point shooting ways and going inside the paint but don’t get fooled. This is still a team that relies so much on the long ball.
Thompson’s 11-for-18 shooting from deep is the forefront of the Warriors’ long-range attack, which had 21 total triples on 46.7% shooting in Game 6. In the Game 2 win, it was 13 makes out of 28 attempts. Game 5 was mediocre, but 9-for-24 (37.5% shooting) is still pretty decent.
(In contrast, Warriors shot only 30.6% on a total of 19-for-62 in Games 3 and 4.)
The more OKC can chase Golden State’s shooters out of the three-point line, the better it will be for their chances.
3. Spread the wealth
Look, nobody is going to say something about Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant‘s astronomical usage rate (at 33.4% and 32.9%, respectively) but if said rate goes up more than 10 percentage points each during crunch time (defined as last 5 minutes with a differential of 5 points or less), there is something wrong here.
During those clutch moments, Andre Roberson’s 19.3 USG% is a distant third behind Westbrook (43%) and Durant ( 44.6%) while Dion Waiters and Serge Ibaka were rendered practically useless (both at 0%), per NBA Stats.
The Thunder offense will be a lot less predictable without their superstars’ iso sets which led to turnovers and tons of missed shots, which in turn, fueled the Warriors run in game 6.
Durant/Westbrook: 0-4 w/ 6 TO in final 5 min of Game 6
They are 8-37 w/ 13 TO in clutch time (last 5 min, score within 5) this postseason
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 29, 2016
OKC got in this position by letting other players involved. Now is not the time to abandon ship.
Featured Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
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