John Hollinger of ESPN.com on OKC’s first play dumping it down to Perk: “A simpler play would be to have Perkins catch the ball and then punt it into the upper deck; the expected return in points is identical, and it eliminates the possibility of a quick offensive foul or a run-out for the opponent. Again, it’s an easy fix: Don’t waste a play on post-ups for Perkins. The expected return on this move is greater than almost any late-game substitution Scott Brooks could possibly make.”
Alex Groberman of Opposing Views wonders if Westbrook should be suspended for his foul on LeBron: “While you never want to condone unnecessarily hard fouls, you almost have to give Westbrook the benefit of the doubt here. James is much bigger and stronger than he is, and it’s very possible that this was the only way that Westbrook felt like he could stop what was pretty much an unstoppable force. There really didn’t seem to be much malicious intent there, it was just one of those fouls that ends up looking much worse than anyone involved really meant for it to be.”
Ethan Sherwood Strauss on tanking: “Lately, subjectively: Oakland’s Oracle has felt like a muddled political convention, divided into three parts (Warriors fans for victory, opposition fans for victory, Warriors fans for defeat). While this can be fun to analyze from the detached perspective of a sociologist, it makes for a worse fan experience. As written by Warriors reporter Matt Steinmetz: “They’re 20-30 and half the fan base is rooting for them to lose as many games as possible. The focus isn’t even on the games anymore, it’s on whether or not the Warriors will get to keep their draft pick.” Tanking makes fandom feel ridiculous and stupid, often when a team is already at a pretty low point. And this is why I root for its demise.”
One thing: I’d actually argue that the Thunder/Sonics never outrighted tanked. I could buy that they did in 2006-07 before they drafted Durant, but after that, it was just growing pains with a young roster. I can promise you, they didn’t intentionally go 20-62 and then start 3-29 in their first season in OKC. The Thunder might’ve “tanked” by accident, just because they were putting young players on the floor. But they didn’t do it intentionally to move up into the lottery.
Darnell Mayberry on the top seed: “Oklahoma City hasn’t lost three consecutive games this season, which is a reason to believe the Thunder can indeed right its ship right away. The Thunder’s only other two-game skid came back on Jan. 2 and 3. Since that second loss on Jan. 3 to Portland, OKC has gone 11-1 after suffering a defeat. The Thunder also is 11-4 against Eastern Conference teams and swept last year’s two-game series with the Pacers. But seven of the Thunder’s final 12 games are on the road, including a potentially fatal five-game road trip from April 14-22. Meanwhile, the Spurs will play eight of their final 14 games at home.”