By Brian Anderson @MrAnderson035 on March 17, 2014
Oklahoma City Thunder fans went into a panic after learning that Scott Brooks plans to sit Russell Westbrook as the team gears for a rough schedule over the final stretch of the season. The move proved to be a problem after the Thunder's 109-86 home loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday. The Thunder may have put themselves in position to lose out on the No. 1 seed. Here are five moves they need to make to earn that spot back before the playoffs.
With Kendrick Perkins out with an injury, the Thunder need Steven Adams to replace that physical presence they are missing with Perk on the bench. In March, Adams has only played over 15 minutes in one game. He put in 24 very productive minutes in the team's win over the Houston Rockets recently. He obviously adds the toughness the Thunder will need to finish the season off strong.
Scott Brooks seems to have faith in Andre Roberson, but I cannot find any good reason why he does. Roberson has started a few games in place of Thabo Sefalosha, who is out with an injury. To make matters worse, Roberson has played 20-plus minutes in back-to-back games, scoring a season-high eight points in one of those games. He's a waste of roster space and needs to be let go immediately, giving the Thunder better use with those minutes.
It's evident that Jeremy Lamb has struggled mightily over the past few months. His minutes are decreasing as time passes, and the Thunder have not found a way to duplicate the production he brought earlier in the season. If they released Roberson, Lamb can be the main guy off the bench, giving him the opportunity to work his way back into being a productive team member.
With Sefalosha out, the Thunder have not found a good way to get any production out of the shooting guard position. They've mistakenly used Andre Roberson and Perry Jones III, who have done nothing but hurt the team's flow on the court. Caron Butler needs to be thrown into the starting lineup so he can gain confidence going into the playoffs. He's a proven veteran and deserves the spot over players like Roberson, Lamb and Jones III.
The Thunder's biggest mistake recently has been their decision to rest Russell Westbrook, protecting him from further damaging his knee before the playoffs. This move will cost them the No. 1 seed for sure. They may even have a hard time going into the playoffs as the No. 3 seed if Westbrook doesn't play every game to close the season. Brooks made this decision to help Westbrook, but it is going to hurt the Thunder in a major way.
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