Four to one. Keep reading »
Ben Cohen of the Wall Street Journal: “Thunder executives took measures to accommodate Kanter’s religion when they traded for the Turkish-born big man last year and signed him to a long-term extension in the off-season. He has access to his own prayer room in the team’s arena, for example, and uses owner Clay Bennett’s office in the team’s practice center, where he uses towels as prayer rugs. The team also made sure that Kanter’s very first meal in Oklahoma City was cooked under halal standards, which means the meat was raised and slaughtered properly, and Thunder chefs started cooking for him with separate kitchenware.”
Amin Elhassan of ESPN.com on the Celtics: “Boston has to be wise with how they move forward. An aggressive pitch for Kevin Durant should definitely be in play, but I’d love to see the Celtics pursue players like Al Horford and Nicolas Batum, building upon their selfless style of play while simultaneously weakening potential Eastern rivals.” Keep Reading…
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Anthony Slater with a feature on Enes Kanter: “Kanter is a proud Muslim. He practices his faith daily, which includes prayer. For it, he needs a private, quiet room. Clay Bennett has an office at the facility, but it’s not often used. So they called Bennett and asked if Kanter could utilize the space for prayer. Bennett’s answer: yep, no problem. Kanter used it then and still uses it today. And when timing dictates, he has a prayer room available at the arena, near the locker room — an auxiliary room cleared out by the Thunder before his first home game.”
Scott Brooks on his new job: “I’m excited about the team, guys,” Brooks said with a smile. “We have a great group of guys. I understand the question. But I’m excited about the group of guys we have here. When this season ended, when I was looking around, I knew that this is the place I wanted to be.” Keep Reading…
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Berry Tramel: “The West landscape changed mightily in a 31-hour period in which Curry, Golden State’s historic sharpshooter, went down in Game 4 against Houston and Paul, the Clippers’ gallant quarterback, suffered a broken hand against Portland and his all-star bodyguard, Blake Griffin, suffered a quad muscle injury. Curry will be re-evaluated in two weeks, terminology all too familiar to the Thunder, which heard “re-evaluated” repeatedly last season, when both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook took turns being shelved, Durant finally for the season.”
From Jackie MacMullan’s piece on Brad Stevens: “When Stevens was named head coach at Butler, he received an invitation from Florida coach Billy Donovan to participate in a preseason coach’s summit. Stevens, who hadn’t yet coached a game, was asked to demonstrate how to guard bigs with undersized players. ‘Billy had just won two national championships, and I was a nobody,’ Stevens says. ‘But as I’m speaking, he’s taking notes and asking questions. That’s how it’s supposed to be. You’re supposed to keep learning. You’re not supposed to stagnate.'” Keep Reading…
Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com: “For most of Dirk Nowitzki’s career, a first-round exit in the playoffs qualified as a major disappointment for the Dallas Mavericks. This season is different. Nowitzki held his head high as he grabbed the microphone and leaned back in his chair for his final postgame media conference of the season. Given the circumstances, Nowitzki took comfort in the fact that this flawed, injury-ravaged Mavs team fought to the merciful end. The Mavs overachieved simply to make the playoffs. They pulled off a minor miracle by actually winning a game against the much deeper, much more talented Oklahoma City Thunder. Nowitzki can live with exiting in five games, with the Mavs having never led in any of their losses, all of which were by double figures.”
Berry Tramel: “Kevin Durant told the world that Mark Cuban is an idiot. It was wonderfully entertaining and wholly unnecessary, because about 40 minutes earlier, Russell Westbrook showed the world the same thing. Cuban, the maverick Mavericks owner, sat courtside pregame and opined that this Western Conference playoff series has two superstars. One per team. Durant and Dirk Nowitzki. Then Westbrook went out and had 36 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists to lead the Thunder to a 118-104 closeout victory over Dallas, which sends OKC into a West semifinal showdown series with the Spurs.” Keep Reading…
It wasn’t emphatic. It wasn’t excellent.
But it was effective.
The Thunder are done with the Mavericks after five games, and on to San Antonio to play the Spurs. We’ll get to that. But first, let’s talk about this Game 5, and this series. Here’s what I think we learned:
1) Russell Westbrook isn’t a superstar. He’s a superstarrrrrrrrrrrrr. So yeah, Mark Cuban said some silly things pregame and Westbrook proved those even sillier with his colossus of a game — 36-12-9 — stomping out every Mavs comeback attempt in the fourth quarter. If Cuban was trying to mentally hijack Westbrook, it failed miserably and in the meantime, probably messed up any slim chance he had to get a meeting with Kevin Durant this summer. Because as you’ve surely seen, when asked about Cuban’s comments, Durant jumped in for Westbrook.
“Hold up,” he said. “He’s an idiot. He’s an idiot. Don’t listen to him. Alright. That’s what we’ve got to say about that. He’s an idiot. Next question.” Keep Reading…
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OKC leads 3-1
Playoff Team Comparisons (per NBA.com/Stats – out of 16 teams)
The Oklahoma City Thunder suffered a bit of a scare after Game 4 in their series against the Dallas Mavericks. With his Flagrant-2 and ejection from Game 4, Kevin Durant faced the possibility of being suspended for Game 5. Luckily, he was only fined and will be in uniform for the Thunder’s game tonight. While the prospect of facing the injury-ravaged Mavericks without Durant isn’t that scary, the prospect of maybe having to go back to Dallas to play another emotionally-charged road game was. Not necessarily because I think we would lose, but because a myriad of variables could come into play on the road. How will the refs call the game? Will the bench production remain consistent? Will the refs allow physical play to continue on Durant and Russell Westbrook? Keep Reading…