Mavs-Thunder preview from Rob Mahoney of The Two Man Game: “If much of Westbrook’s positive impact is taken out of the picture, the advantages held by Nowitzki and the Mavs’ supporting cast (which is more versatile and productive than the Thunder’s crew, even if the difference in efficacy isn’t glaring) become even more vital. That could easily be negated if OKC does particularly well on the offensive glass or gets out into transition frequently, but I see the Mavs taking care of business in both of those regards. The Thunder will naturally get theirs on the break and with second chance points, but not to a degree that will significantly affect the series. Marion, Jason Terry, Peja Stojakovic, and J.J. Barea, on the other hand, seem poised to consistently outscore OKC’s supporting cast thanks to the opportunities granted by Dallas’ offensive system. The Thunder will play much better defense than the Lakers did, but the production and efficiency of the Mavs’ complementary scorers was no fluke.”
John Hollinger of ESPN.com on candidates to rule the West: “With their four best players all aged 22 or younger and airtight cap management that hasn’t wasted a single cent, Oklahoma City’s advantage may only increase if the next collective bargaining agreement imposes more rigorous salary cap rules. In any event, the Durant-Westbrook-Harden-Ibaka nucleus virtually guarantees a spot in the conference’s top four for the next decade or so. The only question appears to be which of the teams below will be joining them in the race to supplant the Dallas-L.A.-San Antonio vortex.”
Andrew Sharp of SBN on KD’s marketability: “But what the skeptics forget is that someone like Michael Jordan never had much of a personality. Marketers could create a persona for him, but the more years pass, the more we realize how much of an act that was. But we bought it, because you know what sells more than anything? Winning. And on that front, both Rose and Durant are on a track that we haven’t seen from a 22 year-old in NBA history. So sit back and enjoy this, because in ten years, there’s a decent chance we’ll look back and think of 2011 as the year that the NBA hierarchy changed forever.”
Ben Golliver of CBSSports.com on what’s at stake for KD in these Western Finals: “For Durant and company, the Western Conference finals against the Mavericks represent simply the first of many showdowns and shootouts. Worst case scenario: They get picked apart by a more experienced team that just picked apart the defending champs. But, in the process, they’ll gain valuable big-moment playoff reps. Best case scenario: Their athleticism and fearlessness is too much for the Mavericks to handle, and the dream season continues for another round, reaching impossible heights. Either way, Durant wins. Here, clearly, he has nothing to lose.”
Perk on the difference in winning in OKC: “As soon as we won last night, I got all kinds of phone calls about tickets so it made me feel close to home. One thing I can say, when I was in Boston, it was fun. But last night, it was real fun. Being around a group of guys – KD (Kevin Durant), who’s just a great guy – and then just to see all the (fans react), it was just unbelievable. I’m just happy to be a part of it.”
The lottery is tonight. Who knew? A really interesting look at draft comparables.
Shoals on Westbrook’s glasses: “What made Westbrook’s glasses special, though, was their timing. After a hard-fought series against a Grizzlies team that, depending on who you asked, were either Visigoths storming Planet Dream, Bad News Bears with a collection of vintage Wu-Tang Polos (all Russ Bengston, that one), or a marauding, scorched-earth force spitting in the face of OKC’s advanced weaponry, the Thunder were back on top. It had an awful lot to do with Westbrook, the team’s fulcrum as well as its major newsmaker during this series, achieving the synthesis we’ve waited for all along. Sacrificing none of his explosiveness, or even his signature unpredictability, Westbrook nevertheless acknowledged a team concept and the need to make friends in public places.”
At CBSSports.com, just one person went with the Thunder, and it wasn’t me.
At ESPN.com, 5-on-5 on the Thunder and Mavs: “Marc Stein, ESPN.com: Nick Collison just showed the world how effective he can be with his work against Zach Randolph in Game 7, but Nowitzki will gladly deal with the likes of Collison and Serge Ibaka compared to the prospect of trying to guard Z-Bo or Marc Gasol for long stretches. Durant has also had trouble scoring against Dallas, even though he’s so much bigger than any of the Mavs’ 3 men.”
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute on TrueHoop writing how to defend people: “But Kevin is dangerous everywhere on the floor. The weakness of his game is that he doesn’t post up. He has a really nice jump shot and he can get to the basket. But the main thing is to have him try to take contested jump shots and be physical with him. He wants to get to certain spots on the floor. But if you body him up, you can wear him down. At the end of the game, it shows, because he’s a guy that’s going to live by the jump shot. As a jump shooter when you really don’t feel your body and you’ve been beaten up all game, you don’t make as many jump shots.”