Bethlehem Shoals for GQ: “This season was supposed to bring some resolution, and with it, the keys to the future. We could see it on the horizon, and it tasted so good, but the transition from old to new would have to be completed for this new class of power teams to take the reins. The Heat made the Finals, but LeBron left us mystified once again. They simply had to win at some point. The Bulls needed another strong season to cement their status. And the Thunder, assuming they could answer questions about the impetuous Russell Westbrook’s place on the team, seemed ready to make LeBron vs. Durant the new LeBron vs. Kobe, even if both dudes are thoroughly enmeshed in their team concept.”
Beckley Mason of HoopSpeak on a Harden-Durant two man game: “Perhaps the biggest problem: quality of screens. Harden sets them fairly well, but Durant still struggles to really lay the lumber on the targets of his screens. The other issue is that the Thunder rarely play three let along five threatening three point shooters, making it more difficult to clear out an entire side. But with Harden and Durant’s combination of ball handling, size and shooting, these two have the makings of an absolutely unstoppable duo in the kind of action that, through thousands of repetitions in games and practice, the Mavericks have perfected.”
Trey Kerby of TBJ on the casino trip: “Like I said up top, the Thunder don’t have a game until Wednesday, so staying out until 5am when there’s nothing but a short flight from Los Angeles to Phoenix on the docket isn’t a big deal. At all. However, if LeBron does this, you hear about how immature he is, how little he cares about basketball and how he is the worst person on earth and should be figuring out how to not miss fourth quarter free throws and ruin everyone’s life. Kevin Durant does it and you’re thinking of how great it would be to share a fist pump when the cards go the right way.”
John Rohde says self-improvement is the key for OKC: “For the last two weeks, Brooks has preached to his players that no matter who the first-round opponent turns out to be, the key to success is all about themselves. Self-improvement is foremost for the Thunder, primarily with better defense. Brooks views this as fact, not coach-speak.”
(I have to point out the third to last paragraph of that article. “Despite Monday’s second-half implosion, the Thunder remains the most efficient offense in the league, according to ESPN’s John Hollinger.” Did you know KD is averaging 27.8 points per game according to Daily Thunder’s Royce Young? I apologize, but I found that humorous.)
I’ve mentioned this before, but after watching Tony Parker torch the Lakers last night, why doesn’t he receive any of the same flak Westbrook gets? Why can Parker shoot 20 or more times — almost always more than Tim Duncan — and not get any of the “he’s no point guard!” blowback. Because he has titles to his name? Because it’s worked? I just don’t get it. That said, Westbrook should really watch the way Parker controls a game with his mid-range jumper. His decision-making is impeccable.
Berry Tramel says the Thunder lost their composure: “But misery had company Monday night. Kevin Durant, too, got frustrated. A lack of fundamentals — taking care of the ball, not understanding situations, trying to make a point by making a play — led to empty possession after empty possession. Westbrook and Durant had five turnovers each. Paul seemed to get under Westbrook’s skin, and the goofy Nick Young seemed to get under Durant’s. The Thunder’s two all-stars combined to make 11 of 34 shots. Eventually, the composure loss spread to defense, where in the fourth quarter Durant, trying to help out in the lane, let Young free for open shot after shot, and the penetrating Paul found Blake Griffin open for easy dunks down the stretch, when the Clips broke away.”
Clark Matthews of The Lost Ogle: “Honestly, if the team was motivated strongly by that, I would question their confidence. Should they really be concerned about a theoretical benefit when they are hopefully believing they can win anywhere and sweep anybody? I am confident that when the season becomes about best of seven instead of the doldrums of a compressed sixty-six game schedule, the team’s focus will return and we will all see the team that impressed us prior to spring.”