The Oklahoma City Thunder came into the league as one of the most hyped teams to knock off reigning NBA Champions, the Golden State Warriors. They had extremely high expectations, but have continuously failed to deliver when put the task. During the regular season, they finished with a record 48-34 and finished as the 4th seed in the Western Conference. Seed wise they improved, but they only won one more game than they did last season with a record of 47-35. They picked up an All-Star in Paul George and a solid role player in Carmelo Anthony, but still didn’t make much improvement.
The Utah Jazz, who are the 5th seed, had the same record of 48-34, but so far are showing they were more deserving of the 4th seed. People thought that the regular season woes of the Thunder would end in the post-season because that is when they would “turn it up”. That turn up only showed itself in Game 1, because they then lost 3 games straight. They did win game 5 to make the series 3-2, but it took an incredible comeback for that to happen, which cannot be relied upon every game. The Utah Jazz have been beating the Thunder because they are a more cohesive unit than the Thunder. The Jazz know who their guy is in clutch time moments with Donovan Mitchell, while the Thunder have 3 guys who all think they are worthy of it.
That sort of system only becomes worse due to the lackadaisical coaching by Head Coach Billy Donovan. It is the job of the coach to tie the team together, but Billy Donovan doesn’t seem to be a doing a good job of it. The Thunder have played a whole 82 game season together and still haven’t figured out who the closer is. It could be Russ because he’s their best player, PG13 because he’s their best shooter, or even Melo because he has been a closer most of his career. Each player in the big three has a case at why they should be the closer, but the coach is the one who should be making the decision. On the other end, Quin Snyder has been a great coach for the Utah Jazz. He knows how to keep his players in check while ensuring that they feel comfortable playing their role. It has reached a point where OKC can only win on just raw talent, because as a team they are not good. On paper the Thunder are better than the Jazz, but the Jazz have better chemistry, and thus work as one cohesive unit.
If the Thunder can’t figure out how to play good team basketball, then the Jazz will without a doubt take the series. There will also be no excuses for Russell Westbrook if this series is a wash because he has the help he needed. Right now the series is 3-2 in favor of the Jazz, and I think they will seal the deal in Game 6.