The Thunder need more from the rest of their roster to win a championship.
On Tuesday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder fell to a surprise 109-94 defeat to the Utah Jazz at the EnergySolutions Arena.
Star forward Kevin Durant ended with a game-high 33 points, while guard Russell Westbrook added a further 22 points. Only Serge Ibaka and Reggie Jackson secured double figures amongst the rest of the pack, so do the Thunder need more from their bench?
Their win over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday saw Thabo Sefolosha shoot 20 points with Ibaka once again contributing, in a game where Durant and Westbrook were relatively quiet before being rested in the fourth.
While it is only natural to expect your two star players to deliver on a nightly basis, coach Scott Brooks clearly needs more from his reserves.
The Jazz outscored Oklahoma’s bench 49-25 on Tuesday, highlighting a key weakness that can be exploited. More often that not, Durant and Westbrook will deliver and make the opposing bench’s contribution irrelevant. Yet an off-night here or there, and there could be problems.
The Thunder clearly have more than enough to breeze through the regular season and potentially top the Western Conference. The San Antonio Spurs continue to hold on to the best record in the league, but at 39-13, few can argue that Oklahoma haven’t found the right formula.
The issue though is in the post-season and when it gets serious. Taking the Miami Heat as an example, they undoubtedly rely on their big three to lead them to wins, as LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade regularly do.
Yet with the likes of Shane Battier, Ray Allen, Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole to name but a few, in those pressure moments they have a wealth of options and it is something that contributed to their Finals win over the Thunder last season.
Kevin Martin is one of few who has shown he is capable of putting up numbers to help his two superstar team-mates, especially from three-point range. However, if the Thunder want to beat the best then you can’t help but question whether Durant and Westbrook can do it all over a seven-game series.
They have an opportunity to dismiss the criticism when they take on James and the Heat on Thursday night in their final game ahead of All-Star weekend.