By the sound of it, members of the Oklahoma City Thunder appear to be trying to make the best of what seems to be a bad situation. On one hand, Thunder coach Scott Brooks touts his team’s first-round matchup with the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers as an invaluable opportunity to get better. And while that is definitely true, Brooks and Co. are well aware that on March 15 they sat in fifth place and had a great chance to win home-court advantage. What’s happened since, including losing four of five going into tonight’s season finale against Memphis, has triggered a somewhat disappointing end to a remarkable season.
"We’ve had some tough losses,” Brooks said. "But we don’t look at what we didn’t do. We look at the opportunity that we have going forward, and we have a great opportunity.” When asked whether he was disappointed with how his team has limped to his first postseason, Kevin Durant responded with an emphatic no. "We would have liked to have finished the season out stronger than we did,” Durant said "But we’re still in the playoffs. We just got to take the opportunity to go out there and play our hardest and leave it all on the floor. Nobody expected us to be here.”
Fixing the fourth-quarter offenseOver the past week, one of the most troubling aspects of the Thunder’s play has been the team’s fourth-quarter offense. Denver last Wednesday ended the game on a 22-5 run. Against Golden State on Sunday, the Thunder turned the ball over twice in the final minute off inbounds plays and couldn’t get off a quality shot. And in Portland on Monday, the Thunder was dazed and confused with the Blazers’ defense in the last half of the final period. "We just have to execute better,” Brooks said.