Rob Mahoney of HP with a terrific defense of Russell Westbrook: “However, if we look at all of the lineups that played more than 25 minutes this season featuring Westbrook and Durant without Green, we see a completely different result. 10 different lineup combinations that fit that criteria totaled 921.6 minutes of playing time over the course of the regular season, and with Green out of the mix, those lineups were collectively 7.8 points better per 100 possessions than their opponents. In contrast to the old starters, the new starting lineup is doing quite well; the Westbrook – Sefolosha – Durant – Serge Ibaka – Kendrick Perkins lineup was 5.8 points better than their opponents per 100 possessions in 271.4 regular season minutes.”
John Hollinger writing on breakout players in the postseason: “While Wednesday night wasn’t a great showcase of Ibaka’s offensive skills — he had five turnovers despite hardly touching the ball — the series as a whole was a spectacular display of his talents. “I-block-a” sent back an estimated 12.4 percent of the 2-point attempts by the Nuggets in the series, according to Basketball-Reference.com, turning aside 24 shots in five games. None were bigger than his two at-the-basket denials when the Nuggets led by nine with fewer than four minutes left on Wednesday. Take those away, and it’s game over; no amount of Durant heroics would have mattered.”
M. Haubs of The Painted Area asks a great question: “It leads to this question I’ve been pondering: if you were starting a franchise, and you could have either any one player in the league, or Sam Presti, which would you take? I would generally always take a player, and would probably still do so in this case, but I really have to think about it. It’s a testament to the fact that Presti is, in my opinion, easily the best general manager in the league currently, and is already getting close to establishing himself as an all-time great.”
Emma Carmichael of Deadspin on KD’s Game 5: “What I love about watching a Durant jump shot is that he hardly needs to get his feet set to unleash one. Kobe Bryant and Ray Allen are legendary for their discipline in this regard; they both can appear to have been rooted to a spot as they pull up, even if they’ve just barely curled around a screen. Durant always looks like he could have, just as easily, taken another step and driven to the hoop: There’s a fluid momentum to his rise and release. He looks like he wishes he didn’t have to stop to watch it go in.”
No statements from the NBA on the backcourt violation that wasn’t. The call was entirely correct.
Tom Ziller of SBN on OKC’s defense: “The Thunder’s defense was mediocre during the regular season, just No. 15 in the league. The Nuggets’ offense ranked No. 1, scoring 112.3 points per 100 possessions — better than the Spurs, Lakers, Suns or Heat. You would have expected Denver to push Oklahoma City by scoring efficiently with consistency, and by forcing the Thunder to beat them by outscoring them. But that didn’t happen: Oklahoma City’s defense stepped up.”
Clark Matthews of The Lost Ogle on Russell Westbrook: “Sometimes this style creates Sportscenter highlights, and other times it leads to us as fans getting as frustrated as we did while staying up way past our bedtimes on Monday night. Most of the time it creates winning basketball. Without the play of Russell Westbrook, the Thunder are probably not an NBA playoff team, and certainly not on the verge of going to the second round.”