Well, it’s nice to have that out of the way. Officially, the Thunder are the four-seed in the West and will play Nuggets to start the playoffs. Officially, the Thunder finished the season with 55 wins. Pret-tay, pret-tay good.
The result of tonight’s game had meaning for a bit, but Scott Brooks and the Thunder certainly didn’t play as if it did. Oklahoma City’s starters played just about 20 minutes each, leaving the game in the hands of second stringers. The Thunder actually had control late, but the Bucks ripped of an 11-2 run to close the game which sent things to overtime. There, Milwaukee outscored OKC’s second team 14-10 as the Thunder’s five-game winning streak was snapped.
(The irony of going to overtime: John Salmons pulled out Kevin Durant’s rip move and got the call with 24 seconds left, with the Bucks trailing by three. He nailed all three free throws to tie the game at 96-96. I’ve always said I hate the rip move.)
The plus/minus numbers should tell you everything you want to know about this one. OKC’s starters were +19, +18, +19, +7 and +16. The bench was -13, -11, -20, -14, -1, -18 and -11. I won’t lie though, winning is always better than losing. Though I didn’t care all that much about it, I’d rather play the Nuggets than Blazers to open the playoffs and losing took care of that. But with the Mavs winning, there was no plus to losing. Instead of 56 wins, OKC finished with 55. Instead of closing with six straight wins, the Thunder closed with five. Instead of maintaining that sparkling overtime record, the Thunder adds a blemish. I don’t think there’s any momentum hit here or anything; it’s just more fun to win than lose.
Is there anything to really take from this game? No, not really. The Thunder didn’t really play to win and with the Mavericks beating New Orleans, it never mattered. The game was played with some serious malaise. It definitely had a feel of “Let’s get through this” to it. The main focus first was no injuries, then playing somewhat crisp and then winning. The starters looked solid enough and nobody got hurt. Two out of three ain’t bad.
- Russell Westbrook definitely played a clean, crisp game in his limited time tonight: 20 points on 7-9 shooting, five assists and three steals. Four turnovers aren’t wonderful, but the entire game had a sloppy feel to it early on, to which Westbrook turned it over a couple times in a row.
- I was worried KD would get his free throw to extend his streak of consecutive games with a make. He finished just 1-1 from the line and only got there with an and-1 late in the third.
- By the way, KD won his second consecutive scoring title. Players to do that: George Gervin, Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, Kobe Bryant.
- Durant on the scoring title: “Last year felt a little better.” KD was excited about it, but just didn’t seem all that concerned about it. You can tell he’s thinking about different things now.
- Byron Mullens checked in with a minute left in the first quarter. There was your first sign we weren’t exactly taking this one seriously. And it took eight minutes for Mullens to touch the ball, not counting the one he fumbled out of bounds. He didn’t even get a rebound. His first touch came with 4:40 left in the second quarter and he missed a shot in the lane. Then the Thunder went back to him and he missed a baseline turnaround. You could tell he was frustrated with the way he was playing.
- On Mullens first point which was a free throw, the crowd cheered loudly. Kind of like he’s the bad kid on the team and everyone was happy for him that he scored a point. But he’s got ability. He had some nice moments in the fourth and overtime. He’s a horrible screener and a bad rebounder, but he’s got a ton of talent. He’s just one of those players that has to “figure it out.”
- With three blocks tonight, Serge Ibaka finished the season as the total blocks leader.
- Watching Earl Boykins and Nate Robinson go head-to-head was a joy. Pure joy.
- I am a big fan of Milwaukee’s red uniforms.
- Seeing the division title banner hanging was a bit cooler than I anticipated. Durant: “I didn’t think we’d see that until next year.” Don’t you know, next is now!
- Also, someone asked KD about the Nuggets calling the Thunder cocky. “We cocky?” he said, clearly shocked. “They said that?” Durant acknowledged the team plays with an edge, but said they’re anything but cocky.
- OKC turned it over 24 times tonight. Yikes.
- The Thunder outrebounded Milwaukee 52-34. And lost.
- Nick Collison rested tonight, but he’s in fine shape. Scott Brooks just saw it as an opportunity to get him a few days extra heading into the playoffs.
- Nazr Mohammed and James Harden tried to connect on the backdoor play. Nazr didn’t lead Harden right and it got picked off. See how important Collison is?
- What was Corey Maggette wearing on his foot? An Ugg boot?
- Someone’s Midfirst “Show Me The Money” sign tonight: “Iblocka gives me a Harden.” He did not win.
- The biggest upset of the night: Joey Crawford didn’t T anyone up.
- Brian Davis Line of the Night: After a Royal Ivey 3 in overtime: “Royal with cheese.” I bet he’s been saving that one.
Next up: The Playoffs.