John Hollinger of ESPN.com on Nick Collison: “This stat can be a little “noisy” in single seasons, but using data from multiple seasons makes it even easier to identify the most successful players. Combine the data from the past two seasons and rummage through the list of names for those who were in the top 15 in both seasons, and you’ll get four players who represent the cream of the NBA crop — LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, Nick Collison and Dwight Howard. Wait, wait, whoooooaaa there … what was that second-to-last name again? Did you say Nick Collison? The guy who averages 4.6 points and 4.5 rebounds? THAT Nick Collison??!?!?! Believe it.”
David Roth of GQ with a profile in obscurity: “That being Oklahoma City, the city where Ivey has continued to cement his status as the most important third-string point guard you’ve never thought about. Like Ivey, OKC is something of an afterthought—a city that was never supposed to have a NBA team, a city whose best restaurant is generally agreed to be a Golden Corral and whose zoo’s prime attraction, a chimp named Mwami, keeps escaping his enclosure, as if even he would rather be in Tulsa.”
Mike Prada of SB Nation with a tremendous piece about the Thunder: “To review: in the span of four years, Westbrook shifted positions four times and accepted a bench role, and still rose to the No. 4 pick in the draft. The Thunder adopted the Durant approach with him, handing him the keys and letting him grow. As a rookie, Westbrook was among the league leaders in turnovers, but they stayed patient with him. Now, Westbrook is putting up similar numbers to the league’s MVP on a similarly-good team, all while continuing to provide all the energy plays they need. He outperformed said MVP in the World Championships in Turkey and earned his first all-star berth this season.”
Darnell Mayberry: “With that said, not for a second did I like Thunder coach Scott Brooks‘ decision to stick with Sefolosha once the Grizzlies showed the switch. If this was the Lakers, fine. But Kobe Bryant is somewhere fishing. The Thunder didn’t need Sefolosha’s defense, and he dang sure wasn’t providing any offense (did you see his first shot from the right corner?). Brooks can’t let Sefolosha stay on the floor and be a liability that allows the opposing team to take it easy. Worse of all, Harden didn’t jump off the bench to check in for the first time until five minutes were showing on the first-quarter clock. That’s seven minutes of, well, basically wasted basketball. There’s no wonder the Thunder had just 17 first-quarter points.”
Shawn Kemp claimed the Thunder offered him courtside seats to Game 1 versus Denver. I asked a couple of people that would definitely know about that and it sounds to me like Kemp made that up.
Berry Tramel: “The series isn’t over, despite the Thunder’s 3-2 lead. Randolph could rise up. Become again the horse that slew the Spurs and turned Loud City quiet in Game 1. Become again the player Kevin Durant called the NBA’s best power forward. Become again the player that relentlessly attacks for rebounds. But it doesn’t look promising for Memphis. It looks like the Thunder’s defense has taken over this series.”
Hollinger’s game story: “Otherwise, this game didn’t have a ton of mystery. Memphis got flat-out pounded and has to recover Friday at home or its Cinderella season will come to an end. Oklahoma City has had the upper hand since Memphis picked it apart in the series opener, and one must fairly wonder whether the Grizzlies can stem what seems to be an increasing laundry list of Thunder advantages.”
Kevin McHale says the Thunder did too much celebrating during Game 5 and Memphis will win because of it.
Johnny Ludden of Yahoo! Sports: “We have to end the game with better class than that,” Perkins would later say after the Thunder’s locker room had nearly emptied. “That’s too disrespectful in my eyes. That’s not what the Thunder are about. … I think we were too flashy.” Too flashy. As NBA sins go, this was the equivalent of a 6-year-old disobeying his parents by jumping on the family’s new couch. If the Grizzlies were upset by the Thunder’s conduct, they didn’t complain publicly. But that doesn’t matter to Perkins. Three reporters and one camera crew greeted him after he dressed late Wednesday. No one asked about the end-of-game antics. No one thought to ask. Perkins raised the issue on his own because he had one more lesson to impart to his young teammates: “We haven’t done nothin’.”
Dean Oliver of ESPN.com: “Both Henry Abbott and John Hollinger have written about Westbrook’s shoot-first mentality, but there’s an interesting statistical story brewing that they didn’t capture. Oklahoma City led the NBA in total points scored per assist, with 5.23 points per assist. (It was 8.31 in Game 4.) This measure isn’t talked about much, but it is a reflection of teams that get their points off the dribble and at the foul line, not off a lot of kick-outs to shooters or dishes to big men around the basket.”