Christmas Day was not quite merry for the Thunder, as the team lost its second consecutive game. Just a few days ago, Oklahoma City was playing at such a high level that it won 12 straight contests, even beating teams on bad nights. Now, a couple of disturbing trends have emerged in the team's play as the Dallas Mavericks come to town tonight.
One Step Up and Two Steps Back
Last week, I wrote that the Thunder were doing a much better job of spreading the scoring around this year. Prior to the team's win over the Hawks, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook had accounted for 45 percent of Oklahoma City's points. In the three games since then, they have accounted for 68, 56, and 68 percent. And in those three games, the Thunder have gone 1-2.
A variety of factors have contributed to the problem. Westbrook had two of his worst nights of the year against Minnesota and Miami, posting effective field goal percentages of .339 and .263, while chucking up a total of 47 shots. That surely left fewer opportunities for his teammates to contribute, but most of the players not named Durant missed too many of the chances that they did get. Kevin Martin had an effective field goal percentage well below his season average against the Timberwolves and Hawks. Kendrick Perkins went 1-5 against the Heat. Thabo Sefolosha has been struggling to connect on shots as well and just flat out stopped shooting against Miami, attempting only one bucket in nearly 30 minutes.
Miami and Minnesota have been above average teams in terms of eFG% allowed, but not great. Yet, they somehow shut down Oklahoma City, a team whose hallmark this year was consistently good to great shooting. If there is any good news as the team looks to break out of this two game slump, it is that Dallas has allowed an eFG% of .493 (18th) and gives up points with little resistance.
Still, if the Thunder expect to walk away from their game against the Mavs with a win, the team better get back to what was working. Westbrook should probably try to score less, while his teammates need to snap out of their funks as well. The balanced attack was lethal for first two months of the season, and Oklahoma City cannot afford to get away from that now.