The Oklahoma City Thunder have sputtered out of the gate to a 2-5 record following the NBA’s All-Star Game. In their defense, they’ve faced arguably their toughest stretch of the season: Indiana, Cleveland, @ Dallas, @ New Orleans, Golden State, @Sacramento and @ LA Clippers.But of those losses, only the loss to the Pelicans can be waved off as “fatigue from the second game of a back-to-back.” Otherwise, the very talented Thunder roster isn’t looking so hot right now. The points are there, but the defense? Not so much. Particularly in last night’s collapse against the LA Clippers, who the Thunder were leading by 17 points as the fourth quarter began; following the shocking collapse, the social medias were all abuzz with what Kevin Durant stated in rather plain language as evidenced by the below tweet from esteemed NBA reporter Rachel Nichols:

The loss last night was more or less a failure of execution on defense AND offense in the fourth (OKC had all of five buckets in the final frame.) But, bummer losses to the Clips not withstanding, the Thunder have been the “anti-Blazers” from a DEF Rating standpoint in recent weeks. To put it kindly, the month of February wasn’t kind to the Thunder’s team defense numbers. That’s what happens when you face good teams in rapid succession thanks to the quirks of NBA scheduling. Now, can Billy Donovan right the ship? Probably. Will the Thunder still be challenged defensively by having a hindrance like Enes Kanter around? Probably. Kanter’s a toxic commodity at this point, what with the albatross of a contract OKC proffered him and the whole “I can’t play defense because I don’t move well in space and lack vertical (and horizontal) quickness”-thing. What nobody saw coming (read: everyone) was the burden Serge Ibaka and Steven Adams would be taking on with Kanter being such a terrible liability on that end. Yes, he’s an absolute boon offensively, but he’s enough of a mess on defense that it’s a wash overall. Sigh. Such is life when your “big signing” was a guy who can’t guard himself against a cute bunny. (Yes, Enes Kanter is the banana in this gif):

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In any case, the Thunder’s difficult scheduling stretch continues tonight as they journey to Mordor Oracle Arena to face the juggernaut Warriors at home, where Golden State hasn’t lost in over a calendar year. Adding just a dash of tension to the game, the Warriors can match the record-setting Chicago Bulls of the 1995-96 season for most consecutive home wins (44) with a defeat of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Adding more speculative fuel to the media-hype fire surrounding this game is the fact that Steph Curry (y’know, Golden State’s point GOD) possibly stole the Thunder’s collective soul/joie de vivre/will to live with his famous dagger from last Saturday night (yes, it’s only been six days):


How will the Thunder respond? Did Billy Donovan burn sage leaves in the Chesapeake Energy locker rooms? Was a priest called? Will Russell Westbrook have his revenge? This is still the third-best team in the West, a team that arguably would be much closer to the *best* team in the conference if it weren’t for some truly amazing teams in Golden State and, oh yes, San Antonio. The Thunder are still armed to the teeth with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and only a fool is willing to bet against that tandem for too long. All will be settled tonight at 10:30 ET and, with an Oklahoma City win tonight, the Thunder can forget a lot of what has ailed them in the past seven games. Of course, that’s a very big “if” when playing at Roaracle and against a man that may have just stolen your soul.

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