By Michael Kinney
There was a time the Oklahoma City Thunder were considered by many to be the one team that had a chance to compete with the Golden State Warriors and represent the West Conference in the NBA Finals. However, with the team’s recent stretch of ugly losses, that seems so long ago.
With Oklahoma City’s 12-point loss to the Memphis Grizzlies Monday, the team has a 5-8 record in the month of March. Their winning percentage of .385 is tied for the 21st worst in the league.
Comparably, in the first three months of the season, their winning percentage of .640 was the sixth best in the entire NBA.
Then came the NBA All-Star break and everything has seemingly fallen apart since then. Since Feb. 11, the Thunder has only won back to back games once.
Yet, in that same span of time, they have two separate four-game losing streaks.
That type of inconsistency is not the sign of a team that has greatness on the horizon.
“We’re competitive. We know where we want to get to, we know where we want to be. We know that nights like tonight isn’t good enough,” Thunder forward Paul George. “It just goes to show that when we don’t come ready, we’re vulnerable against anybody.”
This became crystal clear over the past two road games for the Thunder. On Friday, the team traveled to Toronto to face the Raptors, who have the second-best record in the league. Oklahoma City came away with an impressive 116-109 victory.
Yet, just three days later, they lost to a Grizzlies squad that was missing its best player in Mike Conley and had traded away its most experienced members earlier in the season.
“I don’t think there can be any excuses, having the two days in between the Toronto game. Obviously, as a coach, when you have two days like that, you want to do the best job you can to help the team get prepared for what they are walking into,” Donovan said. “The disappointing part is that two nights ago, you could see the range of margin of how we can be on a night and how we can be on another night. If you are going to be a great team, the one thing doesn’t allow greatness is inconsistency.”
The Thunder came out of Monday sitting in eighth place in the Western Conference. With a six-game lead over the Sacramento Kings and only eight games remaining, they have a pretty secure hold on the final playoff spot.
Yet, the big question is do they plan to just settle on making the postseason. After all the moves, trades and offseason deals was it just to get beat by the Golden State or the Denver in the opening round.
With six of their last eight games at home, the Thunder can still make a move. Despite their recent play, only three games separate them and current No. 4 seed Portland.
But does Oklahoma City have what it takes to turn around this wandering ship that has been off course for more than a month? First, they had to all admit there is a problem.
“I’m never worried. I never panic. Everybody is so wrapped around how everybody thinks we should be playing or how you’re supposed to be playing at this time of year,” Thunder guard Russell Westbrook said. “As long as internally we’re fine, that’s why I don’t worry, regardless of what happens – win, lose or draw.”
Michael Kinney Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider