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Oklahoma City Thunder: Can OKC flip the switch in the NBA Playoffs?

So as the Thunder awaits the arrival of the Memphis Grizzlies for what promises to be a bear fight of a first-round series, one question trumps all others.
by Berry Tramel Published: April 17, 2014

“When the playoffs start, that's when we'll see,” Perkins said. “I feel like everybody starts 0-0 and get a clean slate and you go from there. All it takes is two games in the playoffs to show character. You could go down 0-2 and then bounce back and win four in a row.

“You never know how guys are going to come out during the playoffs. You could prepare. You could play well going into the playoffs and you just never know. It's all about making shots, matchups, who's going to play defense and who want it the most.”

So you never know. But the Thunder’s 4-4 record the last two weeks isn’t so alarming as how the Thunder has been playing.

Since the all-star break, the Thunder’s defensive lapses have been many: 111 points allowed to Detroit, 101 to hapless New Orleans, 102 to fangless Indiana, 122 and 128 to Phoenix, 109 and 111 in regulation to Dallas, 114 to the woebegone Lakers, 125 points allowed to the Clippers.

Not even the return of defensive specialists Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins has restored defensive consistency to the Thunder.

That has to change starting Saturday. You can’t let 25-year-old Memphis rookie Nick Calathes, he of the 4.9 points per game scoring average, go off for a career high 23.

OKC is 20-4 with its five-man starting lineup intact. The Thunder remains an elite team. Probably the West’s best team. Maybe the league’s best.

But the Thunder hasn’t been playing like it. Time to flip the switch.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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