Basketball Insider

Thunder Fall In Home Opener To Wolves Without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Thunder Fall In Home Opener To Wolves Without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Oklahoma City – The Thunder had their home opener Sunday night after hitting there road for the first two games of the season and looked to get their first win of the season.

Despite the two losses to start the season, this team has played very hard and competed in both games and we left saying they could have easily won either game. One of the main problems in both games was the starters not bringing enough energy or effort and it caused them to get down by double digits but once the bench came in things changed for the better and the Thunder made it a game.

That was the same exact thing that happened tonight.

Thunder, who were missing Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and using their third different lineup in as many games, didn’t start the game well at all and it wasn’t until the bench unit came in that the Thunder got thins going on both ends of the floor.

Just like the first couple of games there were some positives to take from the game but they weren’t able to secure a victory and they ended up losing the game …. and start the season 0-3 for the second straight season. We left the first two games saying the Thunder were just a team that was young and didn’t really know how to win yet and that wasn’t the case tonight.

Here are the 3 reasons they didn’t get the win:

Another Poor Start

As mentioned, the Thunder haven’t been able to get off to a good start for the third straight game and that might be something to start to get concerned about. Thunder defense wasn’t completely terrible to start but the Thunder offense wasn’t that good so it allowed the Wolves to get a comfortable lead and the Thunder were fighting back the rest of the game.

The Thunder bench once again came in and kind of saved the day for the Thunder or it would have been a very ugly game very early.

A team that was missing it’s best player (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander) and two of the guys that were supposed to be big contributors on the team (Chet Holmgren & Jalen Williams) can’t have starts like this because when the other team has more talent the Thunder have to do something to offset that and bringing energy and effort on both ends is one big way to do that. This is something good teams do and the Thunder are going to have to learn how to get to that point if they want to be successful in the future.

Yes, they have played two teams that are projected to be at the top of the Western Conference and will have the next two games against a team a lot of people picked to win but this is starting to becoming a little worrisome because it doesn’t take much to give consistent effort and bring energy. Luckily, it’s a long season and they have time to fix it.

More Settling

The Thunder shot 9-41 (22%) from 3.

I could sit here and say that they just couldn’t hit shots tonight but that wouldn’t be the full truth. Yes, they did miss quite a few open threes but they weren’t necessarily good shots. If they hit them, cool but they didn’t and you can’t continue to settle against good teams.

There were plenty of those three point shots that could have been turned into drives to get better shots, some could have been midrange shots, and some they could have been a little bit more patient on given they were early in the shot clock.

The movement we saw from the Thunder hasn’t really been there in the first two games. Limited player and ball movement has led to them settling for the majority of their three point shots and has hindered the offense as a whole. If they fix this it will do wonders for their offense and season.

Is The Paint D Gonna Be An Issue All Year

This could be a reason the Thunder lose every single time they don’t come out with a victory.

I will say, to be fair, we really haven’t gotten an accurate judgment on how they defend the paint because they have played the Wolves twice who have the new look twin towers with Rudy Gobert and Karl Anthony Towns and the Nuggets who have the best big man in the game. But they need to be much better in that aspect.

Tonight the Wolves had 60 points in the paint and shot 69.8% there for the night. Through three games, the Thunder have given up 60 and 50 points in the paint in two of those games and teams are only going to try and get those numbers higher because as everyone knows, they lack size in the front court. It’s not something that will be fixed overnight but they will need to figure out a way to offset their lack of size and use other team’s size to their advantage or there will be records set on them in the paint this season.

The Thunder were led by Lu Dort tonight with 20 points while Jeremiah Robinson Earl added 15 points and Josh Giddey, who missed a lot of the game due to an ankle injury, and Tre Mann both added 10 points. Off the bench Eugene Omoruyi continues to make the most of his limited time and gave the Thunder 13 points and 6 rebounds while Mike Muscala, also off the bench added 11 points and 9 rebounds.

They will look to get their first win of the season on Tuesday night when they face off against the Clippers at home.

Basketball Insider
@BasketballGuruD

Daniel Bell is a Thunder beat reporter for BlackSportsOnline.com and also contributes to the Franchise doing Thunder pre game shows, appearing on the post game shows, and many more things with the company.

More in Basketball Insider

Thunder 3 Game Losing Streak Ends With OT Victory Over The Bulls

Daniel BellNovember 25, 2022

Defense Still An Issue For The Thunder After Loss To Knicks

Daniel BellNovember 21, 2022

Thunder Push Winning Streak To 4 Behind Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s Strong Night

Daniel BellNovember 1, 2022

Thunder Start A Winning Streak After 2nd Straight Victory Over The Clippers

Daniel BellOctober 27, 2022

Thunder Get First Win Of The Season With Strong Performances From Shai Gilgeous-Alexander And Tre Mann

Daniel BellOctober 26, 2022

The Franchise