Thursday Double-Dribble: Thunder Can't Play Defense

suns picture

Jordan Sharp

Thursday, March 8, 2018 4:05 PM GMT

Thursday, Mar. 8, 2018 4:05 PM GMT

For whatever reason, the Thunder defense has started to falter recently. Whether it’s fatigue or something else, they have been giving up a lot more points over the last few weeks. This will continue tonight against the tanking Suns.

Suns at ThunderFree NBA Pick: Over 112½ 1HBest Line Offered: Pinnacle

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In their seven games since the All-Star Break, the Thunder defense has fallen apart. It’s a small sample size, so “falling apart,” may be a bit of hyperbole, but the fact remains that they haven’t been that good. It could be fatigue, but it could also be the Thunder realizing they don’t need to play lockdown defense every night now that their offense is playing a little better.

Since the break, the Thunder own a defensive rating of 110, which is 21st in the NBA during that stretch. In the first half of games, they are almost as bad with a 109.8 defensive rating. However, their offense has been much better in their first halves after the break, and against a team like the Suns they should have no problem dropping a ton of first-half points.

In their first two meetings this season, the Suns have put up big first-half totals against the Thunder. Their last game March 2, the Thunder were actually down at the half 67-60, but the first-half 'over' easily cashed. Their meeting before that was 62-53 at the half.

Even with a total of 228 for this game, the first-half total is 112 ½, which looks like a strong over candidate. If we look at the same stretch of games post-break, which is also seven games for the Suns, Phoenix has played at a lightning-first half pace of 107.4. If that continues tonight (the Suns are averaging scoring and allowing 58 first-half points in their last five) the first half 'over' is a really strong play.

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