Surely most NBA fans will agree that we are indeed in a different era. An era as competitive as any but with one caveat. Everything is happening so fast. A Russell Westbrook dunk will be retweeted or posted on social media a second after the ball bounces off the hardwood. With that scrutiny, however, comes great responsibility. Where there’s the good there’s inevitably the bad and the Oklahoma City Thunder are somewhere in-between. When Paul George and Carmelo Anthony joined reigning MVP Russell Westbrook the obvious conclusion was we’d find a new challenger from the West.
That, however, has been far from it. The OK3 have flattered to deceive throughout this campaign and the Thunder are currently on a three-game losing streak. They take on the Charlotte Hornets early Sunday morning and will hope this game will serve as a neutralizer to the bitter taste of defeat. It has been quite a rollercoaster ride for the team that hoped to go back to the early years where Ibaka, Harden and Durant donned the jersey. That dream has been put on hold, however, and they got a reminder of exactly how long an NBA season is when losing after a 16-point thumping by conference rival the Minnesota Timberwolves.
What was worrying for Billy Donovan’s team was a lack of effort by the team in a conference that demands it. In a stretch of 15 games prior to this matchup they won 12 games, with one of the losses coming from the Hornets of whom you might say don’t belong in the upper echelons of the Eastern Conference. They too share in the frustration of inconsistency. Out of the last eight games they’ve played, they’ve won five. Wednesday, however, they lost to the lowly but competitive Dallas Mavericks 115 -111, but managed to squeeze out an impressive win against the Utah Jazz Saturday morning with a score of 99-88.
The Hornets, though, can be forgiven for their up-and-down season as they have been without head coach Steve Clifford, due to health reasons related to stress. The good news is he returns on Tuesday, a positive sign for the Michael Jordan-owned team. Interim coach JB Bickerstaff has done a wonderful job steadying the ship and will be encouraged by OKC’s recent struggles as they host Westbrook and co. Center Dwight Howard is due for a good game after going 2-for-9 against the Jazz. He will have his hands full, however, as he will have to deal with a resurgent Steven Adams who, in his fourth season, is shooting 60 percent from the field.
It’ll be interesting to see how these two teams square up as they’re both desperate to turn their recent fortunes around. The game is live on Kwesé Sports 1 from 24:00 CAT and 23:00 WAT.
By Fidel Maithya
@fidelmaithya on Twitter
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