Zach Harper of Hardwood Paroxsym with a tremendously tremendous preview: I begrudgingly welcome the Thunder fans to life in the playoffs. You’re going to hate going against the Lakers. You’ll learn what many of us have experienced over a decade of dominance and calls going against your team without rhyme or reason. But you’ll be better off for it in the long run… especially with this team of yours.
FanFest is tonight in Bricktown (rain or shine) and I hope you attend. It will be excellent. There’s a real buzz in this city right now, so I think a little playoff pre-party and something to celebrate the season will be fun.
Britt Robson of SI previews the series: “The Thunder have the length and quickness for adept switches on the pick-and-roll, so L.A. must emphasize smart, rapid ball movement and, most of all, attack the rim — OKC was 29th in the percentage of opponents’ points allowed in the paint. Even if Thabo Sefolosha pesters Kobe into an offensive draw with Durant, and Bynum can’t provide meaningful minutes, emerging rookie Serge Ibaka has to come up big against Gasol and Odom likewise must be contained. That’s too many assignments for such a young team. Lakers in six.”
Henry Abbott on Phil Jackson v. Kevin Durant: “Durant was only one target of Jackson’s psychological ploy, however. The primary focus was almost certainly the referees. Here Jackson was doing some Jordanesque intimidation, essentially warning them that he’s going to be ready to expose them if they do Durant any favors. They are on notice. And that’s where Durant does something remarkable. Rather than simply destroying Jackson, or ignoring him, Durant’s builds a statue to un-macho ideals like fairness, politeness and kindness.”
Roland Lazenby says Durant has already lost the first battle: “Here’s a hint for Durant and his teammates: Whatever Jackson says, ignore it. If you give weight to Jackson’s air, then you’ve allowed him to disrupt your focus, which he loves to do and does quite well. That advice is too late for Jackson’s first sortie. He picked up on a comment from Boston’s Kevin Garnett, who had offered the opinion that game officials seem to pamper Durant because he is the NBA’s star of the future, if not the present.”
Reader Colin Butler (who made my fantastic header, sent over this fine little picture last night. I guess Los Angeles’ road to the Finals has a detour:
ESPN’s playoff page for Thunder-Lakers. Every expert is picking LA. But that shouldn’t surprise you.
In case you’re wondering, I’ll have some preview stuff coming shortly as well as a pick to the series. I know you can’t wait.