Including Oklahoma City’s Saturday night 148-124 rout of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Thunder are now 4-0 on the season against Golden State, Toronto, Houston, and Cleveland.
Before the team’s dominant December run winning 12 of 17 games, the thought of OKC being a true title contender was unrealistic at best. Back then, the Thunder were struggling to win close games and their Big 3 had a hard time meshing on the court.
“We can be as good as any team in the West, any team in the NBA for that matter,” Paul George said after the win in Cleveland. “When we play the right way the game comes easy.”
Despite winning for most of December, there were still ramblings of Paul George being available for trade leading up to the Feb. 8 deadline. As of now, it seems that most talks of a potential trade have stalled for now.
When playing the top-two teams in each Conference, OKC is averaging 123 points and 53.7% shooting from the field. In addition to high scoring games, OKC is outscoring these opponents by an average of 15.8 points per game.
However, before worrying about playoff competition, the Thunder have had struggles when playing sub-.500 teams. While their 15-9 record against losing teams isn’t exactly encouraging, they have won their last three against these opponents.
Carmelo Anthony on the Thunder having odd struggles against teams with sub-.500 records: “I think it’s a mentality thing … we have to change our mentality.” pic.twitter.com/CbOsi1l2Aj
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) January 12, 2018
What’s important to watch for OKC moving forward will be the play of their Big 3. When their play fluctuates, so dies the play of the entire team. Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, and Paul George started to really hit their strides in December, but George suffered a knee injury and the Thunder proceeded to lose five of their next seven games. Injuries have hit this team just as they have hit other teams as well, but this team has been a rollercoaster ride all season long.
As of now, the jury is still out on this team. Sure, they have made statements wins but it’s hard to believe in a team that lacks consistency. The Thunder are in the midst of a four-game win streak and are three games back of No. 3 seed Minnesota. While they are still in the playoff picture, OKC hasn’t exactly exceeded any expectations.
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