NBA

Back-To-Back Proves Disastrous for the Thunder

Layne Murdoch | NBAE via Getty Images
Back-To-Back Proves Disastrous for the Thunder

Coming off of a road-home split in back-to-back games for the Thunder, OKC was outscored a combined 236-194 against the Spurs and Bulls respectively. The average margin? 21 points. Both games remained in the Thunder’s grasp at some point before slipping away completely.

This iteration of the Thunder has not shown consistency at any stage of this season, and back-to-back games had especially been difficult for them–and that was before the loss of Enes Kanter. In the two games since Kanter punched his way off of the court for two months, the Thunder bench managed a plus-minus (an indication of player effectiveness that tracks points scored versus points allowed) of -56 against the Spurs and and -27 against the Bulls. That’s a combined -83 for those keeping score at home.

Back-to-back games or often precarious footing for teams to navigate, and the Thunder are no different, going 3-6 in the second game of a back-to-back series so far. Luckily, the Thunder have the least back-to-back games in the NBA with 13.

And, while the 128-100 loss to the Bulls certainly stings worse than the 108-94 defeat at the hands of the Spurs, the NBA isn’t a place for moral victories–the Thunder played horribly in both contests.

Below are player averages for last two Thunder contests:

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Considering the nature of the two games, perhaps it’s not all that large of a surprise that not a single Thunder player managed to break into the positive in the plus-minus column. Abysmal stats are everywhere: only two Thunder players with more than five attempts shot over 43%–Steven Adams and Jerami Grant. Further compounding the problem, there’s been a distinct lack of playmaking: no Thunder player besides Russell Westbrook and Cam Payne averaged more than one assist.

While the bench unit is hemorrhaging points at a disturbing clip, Andre Roberson’s play in the starting lineup has been equally disastrous. As a shooting guard, Roberson should be, er, shooting better–in the two game stretch, he shot just 22% from the field and 12.5% from three. His lack of shooting in the two games completely collapsed the Thunder’s spacing, allowing the Spurs and Bulls to wall off the paint and force the Thunder to beat them from outside.

Russell Westbrook isn’t without his criticism, too, obviously. But he needs some scoring help. Westbrook isn’t the type to ask for it–especially publicly–but the simple fact is that one-way players are killing the Thunder. The problem would manifest itself inversely if, say, Anthony Morrow started in the place of Andre Roberson. The problem would become a defensive one.

While the back-to-back losses do hurt, perhaps they were effective in one way: Sam Presti must know that Russ needs a bit of help.

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