Carles of Grantland looking back on predictions: “Backup point guard Eric Maynor went down with an early-season injury, which has been cited as one of the main problems with the Thunder going forward. However, it probably solved some of their usage problems, because they have to use Westbrook at point guard for basically the whole game in order to stay competitive. This postseason will turn into another Westbrook vs. Durant media-fueled conflict, especially because we already know that LeBron will let D-Wade close out the games. All of the attention on Westbrook and Durant will lead the recently concussed and always trending James Harden to seek out more money and attention elsewhere.”
NBA Playbook breaks down Ibaka’s shotblocking: “With Ibaka’s impeccable timing, high defensive acumen and freakish athleticism, there is no question why he won the NBA’s shot-blocking title this season. Also, unlike other young shot blockers, Ibaka takes the Bill Russell approach of trying to keep the ball inbounds whenever he gets his hands on it. This creates more transition scoring opportunities for two of the best fast-break finishers in the league in Westbrook and Durant. His production this year was one of the reasons that the Thunder sat atop the Western Conference standings for much of the regular season.”
Zach Lowe of SI on Perk being dirty: “But dirty could also refer to more subtle rule-breaking, the kind Perkins mastered at the feet of Kevin Garnett in Boston. Folks around the league — mostly outside of Boston — have long complained about Garnett’s occasional moving screens and the extra contact he’s allowed to make when defending the pick-and-roll. Watch Garnett jump out on guards during pick-and-roll plays, and you’ll often see him place both hands on a ball-handler’s hip for just an instant. It’s not a particularly aggressive move — not a shove — but it often has enough of an impact to take that ball-handler just a bit wider than he’d otherwise like to go in trying to turn the corner. Garnett has other little tricks, scouts and coaches say, but that’s the main one I notice regularly.”
A really strange breakdown by Rembert Browne of Grantland on the Kate Upton video: “For one thing, the battle of “thumbs-up” vs. “bunny ears” is one that should be saved for non–Kate Upton related activities. Second, what about Kate Upton screams “Let me wear my favorite screen-printed T-shirt?” I know this was an advertisement spot for Skullcandy, but this controlled environment could have easily been a launching point for one of these two to be the Andy Roddick to her Brooklyn Decker. An Upton-Thunder couple would have taken the Midwest by storm. This could have been huge, but alas, these two nerds decided on this for a lasting impression with Kate. And that expression on Kate’s face says it all. It screams, “Why did I ever let them take off their uniforms?” Poor Kate. Life is hard. But at least Russell Westbrook wasn’t there. He probably would have stood in front of Kate, complained that she was getting too much attention, and then gone 9-for-31 from the field.”
Tyson Chandler won Defensive Player of the Year. Bummer for Serge.
Tim McMahon of ESPN Dallas says the Mavs need a miracle: “What a short, strange trip this season has been for the Dallas Mavericks. It started with the post-lockout stripping of a championship roster, and it now appears on the verge of ending with a first-round elimination. The mediocre Mavericks team from this crazy, lockout-compressed season will be mostly remembered for the divorces with two players (Tyson Chandler and Lamar Odom) who weren’t anywhere near Oklahoma City as Dallas dug an 0-2 hole against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Shots haven’t been falling in crunch time for the Mavericks, but Jason Terry knows they just need a win to get in the series. Unless the Mavs manage to pull off a miracle. That’s what it would take for the old, slow Mavs to rally to beat the young, fast Thunder in this rematch of last season’s Western Conference finals. The record of teams that fall behind 0-2 in best-of-seven series in NBA history is 14-226.”
Jenni Carlson on Westbrook: “What are the Mavs going to do, take Shawn Marion off Durant duty and put him on Westbrook? I mean, Marion is their best defender. But if he doesn’t take Durant, who does? Who else on the Mavs’ roster can handle Durant’s size and range and skill. Yes, Durant has gone cold in these playoffs, but there’s no way the Mavs risk letting him break out of that slump by taking Marion off of him. That leaves Westbrook to Jason Kidd and Delonte West and Jason Terry. And we’ve seen how that’s worked out so far for the Mavs.”
Rick Carlisle explained himself Tuesday: “There are things that are happening out there that can’t happen,” Carlisle said. “You can’t hit a guy in the face when you shoot the jump shot. Intentional or not intentional that happened and that’s one of the things that sort of set things in motion there. Look, it’s playoff basketball and there’s going to be chippiness and there’s going to be contact and there’s going to be hits, and we’ve just got to make sure our disposition is where it needs to be on the one hand. On the other hand, our poise and composure has to be very strong.”