Loved this nugget from Darnell Mayberry’s notes: “If Perk is one of the, if not the, league’s best low-post man defender, why is the Thunder still digging down and showing or sending double teams? Thabo Sefolosha sagged off of Gordon Hayward and showed just enough on Al Jefferson early in the first period for Hayward to drill a 3-pointer when Big Al kicked it out. Here’s what Perk told me after the game when I asked about that tactic. “We told him not to,” Perkins said. “He just did it on his own. That’s just being defensive minded. We’re going to do it as a whole. At the end of the day, you’ve got to show help for everybody. I actually like that he was digging. I’m used to being on an island by myself all the time.” That answer by Perk is nothing but interesting. So interesting I had to give the reason it’s own bullet. Think about it, the Thunder is so used to having to help on the post that its become second nature. Perk might like it, but it’s a part of what’s been killing this team. It might take some time for the perimeter players to figure out they don’t have to help nearly as much, especially with Serge Ibaka providing weak side shot-blocking.
From Elias: “Russell Westbrook had 31 points and made 11 of 17 field goals on Wednesday, continuing his dominance of Utah. Over his last six games against the Jazz, Westbrook has averaged 27.5 points per game while shooting 61.8 percent from the floor (55 for 89) and 86.0 percent from the line (49 for 57).”
Ziller took on the Westbrook-Rose MVP discussion: “If you’re handing your support to Rose without considering Westbrook and the others strongly, know that you’re not awarding the Most Valuable Player trophy, you’re awarding a kindergarten gold star for a totally awesome story or the Man Booker prize or something. Awarding MVP trophies based on warm fuzzies should be reserved for youth soccer, not the highest levels of sport. If you present the argument that “you can’t base the award strictly on stats,” I will direct you to the Steve Nash wing of the Basketball Hall of Fame in the year 2055.”
NBA.com writers discussing what four-seed is most primed for an upset: “Shaun Powell: Oklahoma City is prime for toppling, if the Thunder meet the Nuggets. Not sure how far Denver can go in the postseason without a true superstar, but the Nugs are playing unexpectedly well since trading Carmelo Anthony and George Karl is pushing all the right buttons. Beating the Thunder wouldn’t carry the same shock as Denver beating the Sonics in the 1994 playoffs (“Let’s get ready to Mutumbo!”), but it would be a surprise nonetheless.”
Danny Chau of HP on KD and Derrick Rose: “For Durant, it’s different. So much has been done to portray Durant as the anti-LeBron. This isn’t to say that there is any ill will between the two, but Durant has cultivated an image based on a wholesome personality and a dedication to the team aspect of the sport. It just happens to be the opposite of our current projection of James. We swoon over Durant’s talent and he hardly ever disappoints. But in the end, if Durant isn’t able to make it through in the clutch, our perception can easily shift in the future, pulling Durant closer and closer to the current image of James.”
Brian T. Smith of the SL Trib: “Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin wanted to see his team fight and he got it. A faltering, fracturing Utah team said it would stick closer together, and it did just that. But after almost three quarters of tough, inspired basketball, separation finally occurred. Oklahoma City took the form of a talented, playoff-ready squad that improved its execution and sharpened its attack as the game clock ticked away.”