The Mavericks have defended Kevin Durant well says Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas: “As phenomenal as last season was for Kevin Durant, he still couldn’t extract the one thorn in his side: The Dallas Mavericks‘ defense. Since he entered the league as a rookie with the Seattle SuperSonics through his third season when he emerged as a bona fide MVP candidate with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Durant has put up more bricks against Dallas’ defense than any other in the league — and that’s when the Mavs had been considered only decent defenders. In Durant’s career, he’s averaged fewer than 20 points a game against just two teams — Dallas (18.7) and Orlando (17.6), but he’s played more than twice as many games against the Mavs (11) as the Magic (five). His career field goal percentage is below 40 percent against only two teams, the same two: 37.4 percent (68-of-182) against the Mavs; 37.0 percent (30-of-81) against the Magic.”
Does the Thunder need a rival Darnell Mayberry asks: “So does the Thunder and Oklahoma City need a rival? Having one could boost fan interest even further and turn regular season games against a particular opponent into playoff-like atmospheres. But the Thunder hasn’t had an issue with interest. OKC has sold out 13 of its 16 home games this season.”
David Aldridge ranks the Thunder fifth: “Despite being rather ordinary on D this season, Thunder have quickly risen to within a half-game of the Jazz in the Northwest Division.”
NBA.com’s power rankings: “For the season, the Thunder play at a faster-than-average pace, but they might want to slow it down. They’re 11-2 when they play at a pace slower than their season average. And though playing the second night of a back-to-back had something to do with it, they just couldn’t keep up with the Knicks on Wednesday.”
HoopsWorld looks at tandem MVP combos: “Westbrook has been one of the league’s most dynamic and dominant players since opening night back in October. Durant, a pre-season favorite to take home the MVP hardware, got off to a bit of a sluggish start and was then slowed by an injury, but is rounding back into peak form.”
Ziller maps out the youthful side of the NBA: “Now about the team younger than all of these squads: the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder have a weighted team age of 23.59 years — about 100 days or so younger than the Wolves. Yet the Thunder are a solid playoff team hoping to move even higher and challenge the West’s elite by year’s end. Some will say it’s not fair, that OKC has four top-five picks all on their rookie contracts. In light of that, note that Sacramento is preparing to win its third-straight top five pick (barring a miracle), and the Wolves are right around the corner.”
Finally, a happy birthday to my dear old dad. And I emphasize the old part.