- Tip-off: 7:00 p.m. CT
- Television: Fox Sports Oklahoma
- Radio: WWLS the Sports Animal and the Thunder Radio Network
HOUSTON – In the heat of a playoff series when the margin is thin, sometimes the key to winning isn’t doing more, but actually reducing the risk of what can hurt you.
For the Thunder, tonight in Game 2 against the Houston Rockets, limiting two massive things that can be destructive: turnovers and second chance points allowed. In Game 1, both of those factors contributed to a Thunder loss, so Head Coach Billy Donovan is intent on ensuing that his team doesn’t commit the same mistakes.
That’ll be easier said than done, of course, but the Thunder has found ways to be efficient with its possessions on offense and to rotationally block out on the defensive end.
Spacing needs to be nearly perfect on offense, and Thunder playmakers like Russell Westbrook, Victor Oladipo and Semaj Christon need to not play in crowds, utilizing the passing of their big men to keep the ball moving from one side of the floor to the other.
“We have to take care of the basketball,” Donovan stated. “There’s no question taking care of the ball against them or any team is really important especially with their ability and the way they can fast break.”
“You try to put different actions in, you try to make certain adjustments, move players around to different spots and create those types of things,” Donovan continued.
The pick-and-roll coverages mark the very start of the Thunder’s ability to deny Houston offensive rebounds. Making sure that each player is connected to a man will not only prevent straight line drives to the rim and easy put-back chances, but also puts Thunder defenders in position to box out and clear the glass on misses.
In order to do all of this, the Thunder has to play with an incredibly high amount of effort, energy and activity. Sprinting back in transition and constantly communicating sets the tone. Eliminating fast break points and catch-and-shoot three-pointers for Houston is the first task to having a chance, and that comes down to pure hustle. From there, the ability to make extra efforts, to be in help-side position then to recover back out to the wing all become crucial to getting stops.
“There’s still a deliberate, intentional mentality you have to have in the things you have to do,” Donovan said. “Just because you did them one game doesn’t mean you can do it the next game.”
When all of that comes together, the Thunder has the ability to get out and run itself, then playing with the right flow to create easy baskets for one another. With the right balance of generating stops and scoring efficiently, Donovan’s club can bounce back from a tough Game 1, secure a Game 2 victory, and return to Oklahoma City with this Round One series tied 1-1.
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Bring on Game 2.
A post shared by Oklahoma City Thunder (@okcthunder) on Apr 19, 2017 at 9:40am PDT