As the Playoffs quickly approach, there is no time like the present to take the proverbial "time-out" to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the Oklahoma City Thunder. As they currently sit in first place in the Western Conference, the talented team has an excellent chance at taking home the Championship trophy this year, but there are a few things that could trip them up. Let's take a look at their strengths and weaknesses heading into the Playoffs.
Strength: Team Defense
With all of their starters healthy and on the floor, the Thunder are a solid defensive team. Ranked 15th overall defensively, the team has what it takes to get the job done as a whole.
Weakness: 1-on-1 Defense
The old adage about offense selling tickets and defense winning games is certainly applicable in this case. While the Thunder are strong defensively with their starters on the floor, uncertainty sets in, with their bench and their 1-on-1 game leaving them with shaky statistics and allowing the other teams 100- plus points in a game.
Strength: Offensive Scoring Ability
The dynamic of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden is seemingly unstoppable on the offensive end of the court. Averaging 115 points per 100 possessions with the three starters on the floor, the Thunder have become a worthy adversary to any team worth its defensive salt.
Weakness: Low Post Scoring
While the Thunder have the offensive strength of Durant, Westbrook, and Harden, on the flipside, they are weak in the low post. With Perkins averaging only 4.3 points per game and Ibaka averaging 8.8 points per game, the big men must step up offensively going into the Playoffs to compete with the stronger teams.
Strength: Homecourt Advantage
If the season were to end today, the Thunder would have the homecourt advantage in the Western Conference. With this same season-ending prediction thought process in mind, they would likely face Houston in the first round and then either the Grizzlies or the Clippers in the second round. The homecourt advantage would undoubtedly give the Thunder the slight upperhand that they would need to face their predicted Eastern Conference opponent, the Miami Heat, in the Finals.
With an average of 16.3 turnovers per game, the Thunder simply cannot continue to turnover the ball at such a high rate and expect to win against defensively strong teams in the Playoffs. They are as well-known for their aggressiveness as they are for their questionable decision-making at times. This is a trend that must change prior to entering the Playoffs.
Strength: Free-throw Shooting
Free-throws can win or lose games and thankfully for the Thunder, free-throws are a strong point. In the March 21st game versus the Clippers, the Thunder were 95 percent from the line. This is an outstanding average that will give them an advantage in the Playoffs.
Strength: Transition Game
One of the Thunder's greatest strengths is their transition game. Being the second-best fastbreak team in the NBA after the Heat, the Thunder are virtually unstoppable in this aspect of the game.