Thunder hoping to improve on last year’s achievements.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are one of the most prolific teams in the NBA. They have reached the 50-wins mark already and are second only to the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference.
They boast a roster which includes two of the biggest stars in the league in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and are coming off the back of a season in which they reached the NBA Finals.
So far, so good. However, in the last fortnight, there have been reasons to suggest that they will fail again in their bid for the championship.
With a heavy reliance on both Durant and Westbrook to drive them forward offensively, it simply isn’t a tactic that can bring them success over a play-off series against the elite teams.
They have fallen short against the Miami Heat this season, while suffering defeats to the Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies in the past week.
The loss of James Harden in the off season was a significant one, as they don’t have the depth in the roster to post up heavy scoring points to either release pressure on the top duo or replace them when they have an off-night.
When it works, it is simply brilliant. Countless times this season we’ve seen either Durant or his point guard post 30+ scoring games, and blown the opposition out of the water.
Yet when it comes to a play-off situation, when the team on the opposite side of the court know what to expect and will try their utmost to prevent it, it becomes a little more difficult.
Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha do their job on the defensive end, while Kevin Martin has proven to be a valuable asset off the bench.
However, it surely won’t be enough. Admittedly most teams around the NBA have a star duo, looking at Miami as the example they are often led by the exploits of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
What sets them apart from the rest of the league though is their roster as a unit. Chris Bosh will be always contribute, while Shane Battier and Ray Allen have proven that when the going gets tough, that three-pointer option is always ready and available.
While Durant and Westbrook may have improved again this season, the Thunder as a whole haven’t. Perhaps they have enough to reach another Finals, but to continue to rely so heavily on certain players with no Plan B is a dangerous game to play.