Thunder’s Ball Movement is Unguardable?
The part we haven’t seen before was the prelude: (Kevin) Durant taking his teammates along for the ride and turning the Thunder’s secondary players into huge offensive weapons.
This is a potentially huge development for the OKC side. As good as they’ve been as a three-man offense by riding the prodigious talents of Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden, their top-heaviness gave defenses an out — one exploited by Dallas, for example, in last season’s conference finals. Even playing that way, they were the league’s second-best offense this season, but if they move the ball the way they did on Saturday, they’re basically unguardable.
Just ask the Spurs — a darned good defensive team, by the way — whom Oklahoma City blistered for 109 points on 93 trips, a deadly 117.2 offensive efficiency rating. They did it without offensive boards (only seven in 31 chances), without a profusion of free throws (just 21, including six intentionally given in the final minute), and without raining a bunch of 3s (only five).
Instead they did it the old-fashioned away, generating one easy shot after another by passing, screening, driving, kicking and, of course, making the shots. The Thunder — who were last in the league with assists on just 49.7 percent of their baskets in the regular season — assisted on 27 of their 44 field goals. They aren’t supposed to do this. The book on how to defend this team has always been to make somebody besides Durant, Westbrook and Harden beat you by crowding their drives and counting on them not finding the opening.