Sebastian Pruiti of Grantland on OKC’s late game offense: “In most screens that the Thunder set, Kendrick Perkins is the screener. This allows teams to hedge off him and force the ball out of Harden’s and Westbrook’s hands. With Durant as the screener, teams are forced to pick their poison. Hedging out on Westbrook or Harden means Durant is going to be open popping out or rolling to the rim. Sticking with Durant means Westbrook or Harden can get to the rim with a head of steam. The defense is put in a tough situation either way, and it’s these types of simple sets that can give the Thunder the late-game advantage they’ve been lacking.”
Blazers announcer Mike Barrett wrote a ridiculous thing on Blazers.com: “Smooth and easy. That not only describes how OKC played on Tuesday, but describes the way nearly everything has gone for the Thunder since moving away from Seattle. The next time the team gets a bad break, or a key injury, it’ll be the first time. They have no idea what adversity is, and should, I suppose, actually get a lot of credit for that. Their design, and path to where they are hasn’t seen even one pothole. I’m quite certain their fans, who had the team dropped in their lap, think it’s this way everywhere. This isn’t bitterness, it’s envy. It’s a useless emotion, and probably a sign of weakness, but it does apply here. While the Blazers have found heartbreak, trouble, and bad news under every single overturned stone (some of their own doing, but a lot out of it out of their control), the Thunder have gracefully waltzed up to a championship window that’s now wide open- likely for the foreseeable future.”
Brian Kamenetzky of ESPN LA on tonight’s game: “How Sessions affects a game matched against Russell Westbrook, a player of equal speed and better, more proven talent. It’s a larger issue than simply whether Sessions can check Westbrook. Obviously, Sessions’ ability to stay in front of the former Bruin matters, and this represents a major test for a player not known for his defense. But Sessions can also play a role in alleviating turnovers that allow Westbrook — not to Kevin Durant, James Harden, etc. — to be deadly in transition. And in the meantime, with the ball in his hands, perhaps Sessions can turn those same tables on Westbrook, whose own defensive effectiveness can wane.”
Jonathan Abrams of Grantland on what it’s like to be traded: “The reactions also run the full spectrum. It may be one of the first times in his life that a player is told that his talent, the thing that has gotten him everywhere, is no longer wanted in a place where he has carved out his home. Most players say that the first trade is the hardest. Numbness sets in with each subsequent trade.”
Russell Westbrook did not make a good impression in Portland, writes Stephen Alexander of the Portland Tribune: “From the moment he walked out of the visiting locker-room showers at the Rose Garden on Tuesday night, Russell Westbrook could hardly keep his mouth closed. Words tumbled from his lips in a Faulkner-esque stream of consciousness. The Oklahoma City Thunder point guard teased his teammates about how the media wanted to talk to him instead of them. He scolded a reporter who got a text message while waiting for Westbrook to dress. “No cell phones in the locker room,” Westbrook said. And then Westbrook was off again. He sang a few verses from a pop song. He jokingly demanded that an assistant coach be removed from the locker room, and he was on to his next thought before he could even feign following through on his demand.”
Will OKC win a title? Tim Legler makes some outstanding points about James Harden.
Dave McMenamin of ESPN LA on Fisher’s return: “It will be loud in the arena, all right. Fisher will be showered will well-deserved praise from the fans. It could be loud in the home locker room too, if Bynum decides to up the volume on his speakers again. But Fisher’s voice will be missing and so will his quiet, constant message of professionalism amongst all the noise.”