For the 3rd straight season the Oklahoma City Thunder have been knocked out of the playoffs in the first round. This season it was a 4-1 series loss to the 3rd seed, the Portland Trail Blazers. Let’s take a look at this series before we look at solutions.
Game one: Oklahoma @ Portland.
It was a 104-99 win for the Trail Blazers.
Damian Lillard: 30 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds.
C.J. McCollum: 24 points, 3 assists and 6 rebounds.
The two star guards played well through the series for Portland and in my opinion, those two along with the Thunders shooting mishaps are the reason Portland won the series.
For the Thunder that game Russell Westbrook got 24 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds.
Paul George: 26 points, 0 assists and 10 rebounds.
This wasn’t a bad game for these two but it wasn’t great, could definitely be better.
The Thunder shot an abysmal 5/33 from 3-point range. That 15.2%.
Game Two: Oklahoma @ Portland.
It was a 20 point loss for the Thunder with a final score of 114-94 to Portland giving them a 2-0 series lead.
Lillard got 29 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds.
McCollum got 33 points, 5 assists and 8 rebounds.
Again, a pretty good game for these two.
For the Thunder, not a great game overall, only getting 94 points isn’t great. Especially against a team they swept in the regular season.
Westbrook got 14 points, 11 assists and 9 rebounds.
George got 27 points 3 assists and 8 rebounds.
Not a fantastic game for Westbrook but a decent game for George, at this point Thunder fans were starting to worry.
And again, another awful 3-point shooting night for the Thunder as they went 5/28 which is 17.9%.
Game Three: Portland @ Oklahoma.
The first win in the series for the Thunder. 120-108 at home. This was some good news for Thunder fans after two disappointing losses.
Russell Westbrook got 33 points, 11 assists and 5 rebounds.
Paul George got 22 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds.
Jerami Grant had a decent night with 18 points.
The thunder shot 15/29 from 3-point range. That’s 51.7%.
The Trail Blazers has a decent game with Damian Lillard getting 32 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds.
C.J. McCollum got 21 points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds.
Overall, Portland shot 47.0% from the field with 39/83.
Game Four: Portland @ Oklahoma.
This is the game that gave Portland the edge. They won 111-98 and gained a 3-1 series lead.
Not a great game for Westbrook as he came out and only got 14 points, 7 assists and 9 rebounds.
Paul George got 32 points, 6 assists and 10 rebounds.
The Trail Blazers had a relatively good game with Damian Lillard getting 24 points, 8 assists and 3 rebounds.
C.J. McCollum got 27 points, 3 assists and 4 rebounds.
Game Five: Oklahoma @ Portland.
Game five, back to Portland. It was a close game but Lillard’s 37 foot game winner ended the Thunders season. The game had a final score of 118-115.
Damian Lillard: 50 points, 6 assists and 7 rebounds.
C.J. McCollum: 17 points, 2 assists and 2 rebounds.
The Thunder did well enough to keep up with the Trail Blazers but lost in the final seconds.
Russell Westbrook: 29 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds.
Paul George: 36 points, 3 assists and 9 rebounds.
And that was the Thunders post season. Too short lasted in my opinion. But anyway, what’s done is done and let’s look at how they can make sure this doesn’t happen again.
So I feel like the biggest issues for the Thunder are 3-point shooting, rebounding and defence.
After some looking around, I found that Zach Lavine is a decent 3-point shooting, Shooting Guard.
At the moment the Thunder start Terrence Ferguson in the 2 spot. Now imagine if Thunder had Lavine and they started him and took Ferguson off the bench.
If you look at Ferguson’s stats, they’re not great, not a for a starter. And Lavine is a starter for the Bulls so naturally you’d expect him to be getting good stats. Which he is.
He is a pretty consistent 3-point shooter with %s ranging from 0% on an off night to 50%+ on a good night. The highest I saw was 100% on 2-2 shooting. There is a couple of 70%+ shooting games which is quite good.
So trade scenario:
Chicago receive: Andre Roberson (provided he’s recovering (if he’s recovered, let him play for a bit and see how he’s doing. If he’s not doing well look into trading)) And a 2020/21 2nd round pick.
Oklahoma City receive: Zach Lavine.
I think this would make a good difference to this team as we need a consistent shooter and Lavine looks like he could be that guy.
His defence looks decent as well with a steal and block everyone 2 or 3 games five or take.
Next up is Centre Nikola Vucevic. This season he averaged 20.8 points a game and 12 total rebounds. Whereas, Steven Adams averaged 13.9 Points a game and 9.5 total rebounds. This looks like a good step up in both of those stats which is good.
So trade scenario:
Orlando Receive: Steven Adams. 2019 First Round pick (if possible (if not then another first round pick))
Oklahoma City receive: Nikola Vecevic
So if both these trades went through in the off season the new lineup could be:
Point Guard: Russell Westbrook
Shooting Guard: Zach Lavine
Small Forward: Paul George
Power Forward: Jerami Grant
Centre: Nikola Vucevic
Then you have Dennis Schroder, Terrence Ferguson and Nerlens Noel coming off the bench as the main 2nd unit.
To me, this looks like a team that could make it past the 1st round in the playoffs.
Some people do say that Billy Donovan is he problem as he’s “not an NBA coach”. For the last three years he’s not been able to coach this team past the 1st round so maybe it is time for a coaching change.