If the Oklahoma City Thunder hope to compete against the Portland Trail Blazers moving forward, there is one area they need to improve.
Oklahoma City is shooting 5-for-20 (25.0 percent) on unguarded catch-and-shoot attempts thus far. They are averaging 0.7 points per possession on these looks, which ranks second-worst among all teams in the postseason, per Synergy Sports.
When asked about these struggles, coach Billy Donovan said that high-quality shots are “really hard to come by” in the playoffs and that he still wants his players to keep shooting even if they are missing (via NewsOK.com):
“You’re going to have to keep the defense honest at some point. If people are not guarding you, you’re left wide open, you’re going to have to keep the defense honest … I think to take away a player’s confidence like that and say, ‘Look, tonight you’ve missed three or four in a row. Stop shooting those open shots,’ I don’t think as a coach I’d be giving those guys very much confidence and they probably would sense really not a lot of belief.”
The Thunder have connected on only 16.7 percent of their open attempts from downtown.
Overall, they have connected on just 4.5 three-pointers per game when the nearest defender is at least four feet away. This total ranks last among the 16 teams still playing.
“I thought by far, in the first game, he had a lot of really, really good open 3-point shots. I think in the second game, they tried to take a lot of those away. I think he played down low a little bit more, played at the rim. When he could get into some space where he could kind of use his dribbling to create some gaps for himself, he drove or he stepped back and shot it from mid-range.”
The Thunder are 3-for-24 (12.5 percent) on three-pointers when the nearest defender is between four-and-six feet away. They are 6-for-30 (20.0 percent) from downtown when the nearest defender is farther than six feet from the shooter.
Both measures are the worst when looking at playoff teams thus far and it is perhaps the biggest reason why Portland has taken a two-game lead.