It is the Oklahoma City Thunder’s youth that continues to plague them in the Western Conference Finals against the Dallas Mavericks — not their talents. After falling in Game 3 at home 93-87 and going down 2-1 in the series, the Thunder now face a treacherous challenge to overcome the hot Mavericks and their late-game closer Dirk Nowitzki.
The Thunder arguably have the best roster remaining in the postseason based on skill level and talent. They feature two All-NBA talents in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, one of the best post defenders in Kendrick Perkins and a great cast on the bench. Unlike the three superstars in Miami, this is a complete team. Yet, thanks to their immaturity and youth, they’ve failed to figure things out late in games to come out on top.
After a horrendous start, which included a Mavericks 23-point lead, OKC found themselves within six with three minutes remaining. The crowd was raucous, loud and ready to surge out of their seats victorious with all the game’s momentum. What ensued, as we’ve seen from them before, was a pair of idiotic possessions from Daequan Cook and Russell Westbrook. With plenty of time remaining on the shot clock and without sharing the rock, both players rushed three-point attempts that missed miserably. Following the two Thunder attempts to cut the lead within three, Jason Terry answered with a two-point jumper to extend the lead to eight.
It’s those dumb plays, where their best player — Kevin Durant — doesn’t touch the ball, that kills the Thunder’s chances. Their late-game offense, thanks to immaturity and youth, murders any chance to overcome a seasoned Mavericks ball club (with an unusually quiet owner).
The top four Thunder scorers — Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka and Harden — are under the age of 23. Their nine players who have played the most postseason minutes have an average age of 24.
Essentially, this is a bunch of recent college graduates running their own business with no specific direction. They’re still trying to find their niche in the market, understand who’s the boss and determine their organizational structure. Kevin Durant is the CEO, but at times, he’s been undermined by the VP.
This young group is learning on the job and trying to figure out the meaning of playoff basketball against a team that’s been there before and failed. They have the talent, and one of the best players in the World, but they haven’t yet figured it out.Google+