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Where do the Thunder Go From Here?

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s playoffs have come to an end, as they lost their first-round series against the Portland Trailblazers. The Blazers beat the Thunder in Game 5, 118-115 to advance to the second round. The Blazers won the series 4-1.

The Thunder avoided the sweep and extended the series after winning Game 3 on their home floor. The Thunder beat the Blazers 120-108. Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 33 points and 11 assists. They looked like they could have tied the series, but lost Game 4 at home. Then, the Thunder lost Game 5 in a game that came down to the wire.

In Game 5, Paul George led the Thunder with 36 points and nine rebounds. He also shot 70 percent from the field. He started the game shooting perfect from the field and managed to shoot a high percentage throughout the game.

Westbrook had a triple-double with 29 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists. The Thunder also had contributions from Jerami Grant, Steven Adams and Dennis Schroder. Schroder had 17 points off the bench, while starters Grant and Adams had 16 and 10 respectively.

The Thunder were in Game 5 until the final possession. Blazers guard Damian Lillard hit an impressive 37-foot shot to win the game. It was a dagger that ended the hopes of the Thunder advancing.

This is the third straight season where the Thunder were eliminated in the first round. They lost to the Utah Jazz in 2017-18 and the Houston Rockets in 2016-17. The Thunder are typically a playoff-bound team, but they do not capitalize on it.

At the start of this series, the Thunder struggled from the 3-point line. They shot 15.2 percent in Game 1 and 17.9 percent in Game 2. In Game 5, they shot 44.4 percent from the 3-point line. It was a significant improvement from the start of the series, but it was not enough to win.

With the Thunder’s early playoff departure, one must wonder what the future holds for them. The offseason will be here sooner rather than later. With their recent playoff performances, changes are necessary.

The Thunder have two free agents and two players with player options. Guard Raymond Felton and Markieff Morris are unrestricted free agents. Forward Patrick Patterson and center Nerlens Noel have player options. Oklahoma City could re-sign both Felton and Morris. If Patterson and Noel accept their player options, the Thunder could keep both players. But, the Thunder could do more in the offseason.

The Thunder should consider adding more shooters to their roster. The Thunder were tied for 22nd in 3-point percentage at 34.8 percent in the regular season. Their first two games of their Blazers series highlighted their struggles. One of the first things the Thunder should do is look for a reliable 3-point shooter. Then, they can add other pieces to their roster.

The Oklahoma City Thunder have a busy offseason ahead of them (Image Courtesy of Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports)

The Oklahoma City Thunder must make a change. They have their star players in George and Westbrook, but they need to improve their roster. This offseason could be an exciting and active one for the Thunder. Then, the Thunder could become the contender they are capable of being. It all starts with the offseason.

 

Featured image courtesy of Getty Images

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