Bill Simmons on Russell Westbrook: “After being picked apart like a presidential candidate during Oklahoma City’s first two Finals losses, Westbrook responded with one of the most electric efforts in recent Finals history, sinking 20 of 32 shots, attacking the rim over and over again, and doing everything short of waving both middle fingers at his critics after every made basket. At some point during the next 50 years, I hope somebody explains why Westbrook only attempted three (?!?!?!?!?) free throws last night, or why so many 50/50 calls swung against Oklahoma City these last three games. Just don’t blame Westbrook for last night’s crushing defeat. As Charles Barkley gushed after the game, ‘that boy competed tonight.'”
Via TMZ, KD is being sued for the Durantula nickname: “Hoops superstar Kevin Durant is one game away from losing the NBA Finals, and now one lawsuit away from losing his famous nickname — “Durantula” — because a guitarist claims KD jacked it from him. Durant was sued today in Federal Court by a guy named Mark Durante — a guitarist who, according to the lawsuit, was a big deal in the 80s … playing with Public Enemy, The Aliens, The Next Big Thing, and (our favorite) The Revolting Cocks.”
Via Elias, the Thunder have gone an NBA-high 276 consecutive games (regular season and playoffs) without losing four games in a row.
Berry Tramel: “So here’s what the plus/minus numbers show through four games. The Nick Collison supporters, who clamor for more Collison in this series, have some ammunition. Collison leads the Thunder in plus/minus: plus-10 through four games. Collison was +13, +8, -11 and even in the four games.”
Darnell Mayberry: “It felt like a funeral on the day following the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Game 4 loss to Miami in the NBA Finals. A 3-1 series hole hung over the Thunder’s head like the blanket of clouds that have swept in and stolen South Beach’s scenic nature the past two days. History says this team is staring at an insurmountable deficit. No team has ever come back to win the championship when trailing 3-1 in the NBA Finals. Thirty teams have tried. Thirty teams have failed.”
ESPN Stats and Info on Westbrook’s foul: “Even if the Thunder had forced a miss and gotten the rebound with eight seconds to go, the Heat would have won 91 percent of the time. So if everything had gone right for Oklahoma City, its chances of winning were only nine percent. While that is better than one or two percent, it was a longshot at best for the Thunder to emerge victorious, foul or not.”
KD has the 10th most popular jersey internationally.
Marc Stein of ESPN.com on OKC’s chances if they win tonight: “I’d have to give them a solid 30 percent chance to win the series if the Thunder can steal Game 5. And I’m fully expecting Professor Hollinger to tell me that the actual probability number should be even higher if Miami fails to close this thing out at the first attempt. Think about it. Think about the one-of-a-kind pressure and scrutiny LeBron and Co. would be facing if this series gets dragged to a Game 7. Imagine that the series scoreline is suddenly 3-2 and a “yes” answer doesn’t seem like an outrageous reach.”
Ian Thompson of SI.com: “It is another testament to what Durant has been up against in this series. It is ridiculous to criticize him or Russell Westbrook for trailing 3-1 as the Heat look to capture the championship in Game 5 on Thursday. The Thunder’s stars have been unable to establish their agenda because they’ve never been through an experience like this year’s Finals. And so Miami, which has gone through two years of heavy scrutiny in preparation for this moment, has been able to dictate the terms defensively by keeping the ball away from Durant and forcing Westbrook to beat them.”
Steve Aschburner of NBA.com: “That’s where Harden is right now, having logged three disappointing-to-miserable games out of four so far in the 2012 Finals against the Miami Heat. Harden, so important to Oklahoma City’s offensive attack as an option to make life easier for Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, has done anything but that here.”
Matt Moore of CBSSports.com: “One win. That’s all Oklahoma City needs. Get the one win, get back home to the friendly confines of Chesapeake Arena, and hope the momentum and the crowd carries you to a Game 7, where anything can happen and you’re still at home. Just stave off the daggers from Miami with the blade at the throat and get back to the Sooner State. One win, and you’re still down, but you can get the miracle within sight.”
Zach Lowe of SI.com: “This doesn’t have to be complicated. The Thunder can create decent chances by running pick-and-rolls designed to force help defenders off Durant or Westbrook on the wing, potentially freeing Durant to catch a skip pass, shot an open three-pointer or drive past a defender closing out on him. Harden has been especially good at reading defensive schemes to get Durant some space, though Miami has used its athleticism and speed to snuff out a decent portion of these chances.”