Danny Chau of Hardwood Paroxysm in a 5-on-5 says OKC has the best roster: “Scott Brooks has the luxury of being able to play a 10-man rotation every game without ceding much in terms of talent or production. The team has two elite shot-creators/-makers in the starting lineup in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, with another in James Harden waiting in the wings off the bench. Few, if any, other teams can boast this.”
Rob Mahoney for the NYT on a player being clutch: “There was – and is – no innate quality that makes a player prime for the late-game spotlight or doomed to be an afterthought. There are merely the realities of on-court skills and the constructions that observers of the game have built to glorify – or obscure – them. We love the drama and theatrics of a big shot at the end of a close game – who wouldn’t? But that basic appeal alone isn’t enough to turn “clutch” into anything more than a descriptive term, no matter the borderline religious fanaticism toward a game-ender.”
KD will likely be an All-Star starter again as he’s second in the West in votes. Westbrook is fifth among guards.
Dwight Howard shot 39 free throws last night, an NBA record. Zach Lowe of SI on the strategy: “That’s where the math begins to turn against Jackson. If Howard hits 60 percent of his free throws, as we’d expect over the long haul, the math says hack-a-Howard becomes a losing strategy. Hitting 60 percent from the line works out to 1.2 points per possession, a more efficient scoring rate than any team has every put up in a full NBA season. And that doesn’t account for the fact, noted by Voulgaris and others last night, that by hacking Howard, the Warriors basically forfeited any chance of creating their own fast-break chances out of those Orlando possessions.”
John Rohde on if the Thunder are better: “The Thunder is up in field-goal percentage, 3-point percentage, rebounds, assists, blocked shots and turnovers, and down in free-throw percentage, scoring average and steals. Thunder opponents are up in free-throw percentage, rebounds, steals and blocks, and down in field-goal percentage, 3-point percentage, scoring, assists and turnovers.”
John Schuhmann of NBA.com: “Rookie Reggie Jackson has big shoes to fill. Eric Maynor, lost for the season with a torn ACL, was part of a bench crew that almost always pushed the scoreboard in the right direction for the Thunder. Even this season, Maynor had a better plus-minus mark than all of the OKC starters.”