Remember, DT Night Friday at TapWerks downtown. I will have more info shortly about where to park, what kind of drink specials there are and a few other things. I really hope you come, if only to tell me I suck.
John Hollinger sizes up the Western Conference playoff picture: “Finally, there are the Okies. Nobody expects much from them because they haven’t been here before, and we’d all be a little disappointed if they got in the way of an epic Mavs-Suns Stein Bowl in the first round. Nonetheless, few teams have taken care of business like this one: Oklahoma City hasn’t lost to a team outside playoff contention since a Nov. 15 defeat to the Clippers. Unfortunately for the Thunder, only eight such games remain on their schedule; the other 19 are against playoff contenders. The fortunate part is that they control their own destiny as much as any team — Oklahoma City still has 27 games left on its schedule, the most of any team going forward, compared to 25 for Dallas and 24 for Phoenix.”
The excellent Steve Weinman of D-League Digest spoke with Antonio Anderson’s D-League coach Chris Finch: “His defense at this level needs to be just a little bit more consistent off the ball,” he said. “He’s a great on-the-ball defender. In Memphis, he was able to be a destructive defender, wreak havoc, be a lock-down guy. With the rules and the spacing and the different rotations, he needs to focus in and be a little bit better off-the-ball defender. He’s doing a really good job shooting the ball for us, but a lot of structures in the NBA may not play in the same type of system that he’s in now, so he’s got to be really comfortable spotting up, knocking down shots when the ball comes to him.”
As Henry Abbott pointed out on TrueHoop, Manu Ginobili said he expected to be posterized by KD last night: “I was more expecting to be dunked on, to tell you the truth,” Ginobili said. And Durant said it was fair game: “All clean, I can’t take credit away from him,” Durant said. “He made a great block. When I was at the rim, he just met me there, his hand was inside the rim and he got it.”
I find it a little funny how everyone is singing the praises of Manu today and saying he’s “everything that’s right” about basketball after his block on KD, when we all hate him for the flopping and such and how it cheapens the game. Odd.
But man, it really was a great, great play by Manu. I liked the way Ziller penned it: “The game is winding down, Durant has 21, the Spurs maintain a one-point lead. Durant is on the break, all limbs locomotive, sights set on a monster transition dunk for the lead. Enter Manu.”
Simmons with a wonderful column yesterday about fixing the NBA, the fan way. Of course, let me point out this line: “It’s about Jermaine O’Neal making more money this season than Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Eric Maynor, Thabo Sefolosha and Jeff Green combined.”
If you don’t check NBA Playbook on a regular basis, you should be. Sebastian Pruiti does awesome breakdowns there, like the inbounds play OKC ran against Phoenix the other night.
In yesterday’s Rookie Watch, David Thorpe summed up James Harden perfectly: “Harden is beginning to look like a premier 3-point shooter. He has made 35 of his 81 attempts in 2010 and is at 39 percent for the season. If the Thunder hadn’t traded for Thabo Sefolosha — an excellent defender and underrated player — last year, we’d be seeing Harden in more of a featured role. In time, we probably still will. But his maturity has allowed him to play well despite not playing as much as he would like. Put it this way: The Thunder passed on Tyreke Evans on draft night, and no one in Oklahoma City cares. It’s not just because of the brilliant play of Russell Westbrook, it’s also due to the strong and steady play of Harden.”