Single game playoff tickets go on sale April 14 at 10 a.m. only online at Ticketmaster. Remember, they will go fast and there is a very limited number. Manage your expectations. You probably won’t get a pair because seriously, they’ll be hard to come by. And yes, a playoff shirt is coming. In related news, get your Perk shirt now. It’s on sale!
Marc Stein’s power rankings have OKC behind Denver: “Don’t think anyone in OKC will mind too much at 11-2 in March, but Durant is in the midst of his lowest-scoring month all season (25.1 ppg) and almost never gets mentioned in an MVP race he was widely tipped to win.”
NBA.com’s rankings: “Kendrick Perkins came up with some big plays down the stretch of Sunday’s win over the Blazers and is shooting 65 percent with the Thunder, but his free-throw shooting (7-for-17) might prevent them from having the highest free-throw percentage of all time. They’re currently fifth all time at 82.4 percent.”
Darnell Mayberry with a terrific piece on how nice KD is: “Durant’s parents, Wayne and Wanda Pratt, instilled a sense of humility. Wanda Pratt has often told her youngest son, “It didn’t have to be you,” a quote that has stuck with Durant.”
A little bonus story from Darnell too: “After initial shock and a few cracks about running into me at the airport, Durant accepted my congratulations. Not wanting to take up too much of Durant’s time, seeing as how I see him every day for seven months out of the year, I proceeded to walk over to Harden and Maynor, as well as one of Durant’s good friends, to say hello. Again, nothing major. Just a quick ‘what’s up?’ But as I turned to head back to Courtney, I saw Durant standing next to her. As I was walking back, he was extended his hand and a warm smile. Towering over my wife, Durant had introduced himself with a simple, ‘Hi, I’m Kevin.’ As if my wife didn’t know.”
Mayberry asks, who should be closing games for the Thunder?: “Which brings us to a pertinent question. Who should be closing games for the Thunder? The long-held belief has been Durant, who still is and will continue to be the lead man of this marching band no matter how many games Westbrook puts away. But with Durant’s well-documented struggles in last-second spots, and Westbrook’s emergence with the game on the line, it’s a question the Thunder has to find an answer to with the playoffs looming. Only 10 regular season games remain. The beauty of this Thunder team is that it has two players who are capable of being closers. And there doesn’t seem to be any misunderstandings between them.” I’ll point out here that last time OKC beat Portland, Durant closed them with a one-man 8-0 run.
Dan LeBatard takes on the same Westbrook vs. Rose point I made: “Perception is not reality. Reality is reality. Player X (Russell Westbrook) isn’t viewed like Player Y (Derrick Rose) because winning alters all, even facts, even if one team is 53-19 and the other is 47-24. Exceed our expectations, and we’ll give you trophies you don’t deserve instead of admitting that our expectations were, um, wrong.”
Dave of Blazers Edge: “The Blazers are going to beat the Thunder next Friday in Portland, guaranteed. But that’s just the writ large version of the “good enough to tie, not determined enough to win” dance that defined this game. Even if Portland wins by 100 it won’t make them look like the Thunder looked tonight in a game that resembled the playoffs as much as anything.”
ESPN.com’s Chris Palmer asking who is better between Russell Westbrook and Monta Ellis: “But one thing gives Westbrook’s attributes a clear edge over Ellis': the Thunder point guard’s skills complement those around him better than Ellis’ do his teammates, which promotes chemistry and cohesion and ultimately gives his team a better chance to win. Westbrook is by no means perfect. He is not a natural distributor, is still learning the position and is prone to stretches of erratic play. But his game-breaking athletic ability, versatility and unselfishness have a bigger impact on the game on a nightly basis.”