J.A. Adande of ESPN.com: “The brevity of this series might be surprising, but certainly not the outcome. You could argue that the power shift had already taken place last season, when the Thunder advanced to the Western Conference finals and at least took a game against the Dallas Mavericks, who swept the Lakers in the second round. But we’re a society that believes in a direct transfer of power, so here it was, spelled out over the course of five head-to-head games. At least the Thunder went over to shake the Lakers’ hands (yes, even Harden and Metta World Peace), and Bryant insisted there was one other way this wasn’t like the most notorious NBA regime change of the past three decades.”
Kelly Dwyer of BDL: “This is Oklahoma City’s triumph, though. They had every chance to let this series drag on — giving up down the stretch of Game 2, assuming that the Lakers would hold serve at home in Game 4, failing to living up to the pressure of closing out in Game 5 — and yet Brooks’ team responded in each of those potential defeats. For a team that has made it to the third round of the playoffs two years running, it’s fascinating to watch this group continue to grow. Outside of a loss to these same Lakers, the San Antonio Spurs haven’t lost a game of significance since mid-March. That’s going to change, real soon. The only question is how many times will it change, over the span of a seven-game term? Because these Thunder are on it. Absolutely on it.”
Eric Freeman of BDL on Westbrook’s wild shot: “There was some luck to the shot, of course, but it also exemplified the threat that the Thunder pose to the San Antonio Spurs in the upcoming Western Conference Finals. This team is energetic, active, and capable of pulling off great theatrics in tense situations. In other words, they’re the type of group that does big things during the playoffs. Right now, there’s no more watchable squad in the postseason. Miss their matchup with the Spurs at your own peril.”
A company made some dumb “Thanks Seattle” t-shirts, then removed them when they got some dumb death threats from Seattle people.
Darnell Mayberry: “This was a huge win for the Thunder. Not just because it was a closeout game and allows OKC to now advance to the Western Conference Finals for the second straight season. But this victory tonight ensures that the Spurs aren’t waiting in San Antonio getting ample rest and additional preparation time while the Thunder takes more time putting the finishing touch on this series. The Thunder couldn’t have afforded to give the Spurs the same advantage the Lakers gave it. When the Nuggets forced their opening round series with the Lakers to seven games, it allowed the Thunder to sit back, relax, heal up and prepare. Had the Spurs gotten that opportunity, the West Finals could have gotten ugly.”
Jenni Carlson: “The Thunder’s big three came to play Monday night. And we don’t mean KD, Russ and James. Oh, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden had fantastic games. Offensively, they were stellar. Defensively, they were solid. But this game turned and this series ended because of Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison. What they did defensively against the Lakers’ big men made the difference Game 5.
Manu Ginobili: “OKC is gonna be our rival for the Western Conference Finals. They beat LAL 4-1. Can’t wait!
ESPN Stats and Info: “Kobe Bryant shot 1-of-10 when guarded by Kevin Durant in the fourth quarter of the Western Conference Semifinals. Bryant shot 41.7 percent (10-24) against all other Thunder defenders. Only two of Bryant’s 34 fourth-quarter attempts were inside of 5 feet and both of those came against James Harden.”
Ian Levy of Hickory High on OKC’s offense: “The Thunder are a team that found an offensive recipe completely different from the Spurs. They don’t rely on an efficient balance, but instead on individual excellence. Of their offensive outcomes that occurred at least 100 times, just 26.2% of their possessions were used on those three most efficient opportunities. The Thunder put together the second best offense in the league this season because they made the most of less efficient possession types. 55.5% of the Thunder’s possessions were used in isolations or as the ball handler in the pick-and-roll by Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook. Across the league these were some of the least efficient offensive outcomes, but Durant, Harden and Westbrook were all well above average in both possession types. Durant and Westbrook get most of the attention, but Harden’s efficiency blew the other two away. On possession types where the league average is just 0.78 points per possession, Harden scored 1.07 in isolations and 1.04 in the pick-and-roll.”
Michael Pina of Shaky Ankles on Harden making Team USA: “Making the next “Dream Team” isn’t about paying dues or “deserving” inclusion. It’s taking 12 players who aren’t just the best players in the world, but selfless men willing to sacrifice personal glory for the benefit of their country’s success. With a power house line up like this, it’ll raise the chances of the United States winning bets in online casinos, thus bagging another sure gold medal. James Harden should be on the team, and it poses this hypothetical question that probably won’t be asked anytime soon: Who would you rather take: Harden or Wade? And while we’re here: right now, who’s the better player? It’s a question that might seem crazy on the surface, but choosing the youngster might not be so impractical.”