Thunder has lost 11 straight road playoff games. Can OKC end the skid in Game 5?
PORTLAND, Ore. – On May 16, 2016, the Thunder opened the Western Conference Finals in Oracle Arena.
Kevin Durant made just 10 of 30 shots. Russell Westbrook made just seven of 21 shots. And STILL, the Thunder beat the 73-win Warriors, 108-102.
That was 1,071 days ago. And that was the last time the Thunder won a playoff road game.
Three more games against the Warriors in Oakland that May. Three games in Houston in 2017. Three games in Salt Lake City in 2018. Two games in Portland last week.
Now the Thunder returns to Oregon, with an 11-game playoff road losing streak and another season about to crash land.
The Trail Blazers lead the Thunder 3-1, and what once was a Thunder strength – playoff road toughness – has become a detriment. OKC can’t win on the road.
After the Thunder’s first playoff experience, against the Lakers in 2010, the Baby Boomers grew up and fast. They won 10 playoff series over the next six seasons and went 17-21 in road playoff games.
A .447 road winning percentage in the Western Conference over six years is more than acceptable. It’s a ticket to playoff advancement.
- Related to this story
- Article: Billy Donovan says Thunder needs to 'capitalize' on shots at the rim
- Article: NBA Playoffs: Game 5 Thunder vs. Trail Blazers lineups, tip-off time and TV info
- Article: On the brink of elimination, Thunder still fighting old issues entering Game 5
- Article: Portland travelblog: Lots of radio duty on a Denver layover
- Video: Thunder vs Blazers Game 4 - Russell Westbrook and Paul George
- Video: Thunder vs Blazers Game 4 - C.J. McCollum
- Video: Thunder vs Blazers Game 4 - Damian Lillard
- Video: Thunder vs Blazers Game 4 - Billy Donovan
- Video: Thunder vs Blazers Game 4 - Terry Stotts
- Video: Thunder vs Blazers Game 4 - Season on the line after flop
- Video: Thunder vs Portland - Billy Donovan
But after that Game 1 win in Oakland three years ago, the Thunder lost three straight in Oracle Arena and hasn’t won on the road since. That must change Tuesday night, or another Thunder season ends in massive disappointment.
And it’s not like the Thunder has been a bad road team in general. This Thunder team was 22-19 in road games, tied for second-best in the West. The Thunder last season was 21-20 on the road, tied for fourth in the West.
Billy Donovan was asked Monday about the Thunder road issues. Is it failure to limit opponent runs? Is it a lack of momentum? Too many turnovers?
“I think all those things,” Donovan said. “The momentum in games is when you have it, you want to keep it. When you lose it, how quickly can you stop it? It’s going to happen.
"We got off to not a great start in the game yesterday (Sunday), and then all of a sudden, we kind of went on a run, and then they kind of came back, and then we got back up by seven. They came back. So they diffused some runs.
"Same thing happened when we got down by double digits, 15 or 18 or whatever it was. We kind of fought our way back, and then got it inside of single digits.
“The games are gonna go like that, so you’ve got to be able to handle and manage those runs. Then you’ve gotta figure out ways when a team is on a run how you stop it. You know, being as efficient as you can on offense. You can’t foul, and giving up offensive rebounds, some of those little things like that kind of magnify that. So, tomorrow in the game, we’re gonna have to be able to do that. We’ll have to handle runs in the game. We’re gonna have to handle those type of situations.”
All sounds good. I just know this.
The Thunder once got horrible shooting from Durant and Westbrook in the same game – and still won on the road, against one of the best teams in NBA history.
Winning on the road can be done. It’s just that the Thunder isn’t doing it anymore.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.