Mark Jackson sees some Thunder in his team: “Played against a very good basketball team that went to the Finals last year,” Jackson said afterward. “They have a couple of very special players. In their building, you cannot make mistakes. The thing that I pointed out to (our players) is that this is a process and they went through that same kind of experience and learned from it. It is important for us to the same thing and continue to get better.”
Assists are a big deal: “Though 31 assists are five shy of the team’s single-game record, set in a 41-point road win against the Los Angeles Clippers in the season finale of the 2008-09 season, the Thunder’s 62 assists in the past two games are its most ever in a two-game span. “The way we’re playing basketball right now, 31 assists, that means everybody’s touching the ball,” Durant said. Before this season, Oklahoma City had tallied at least 30 assists only five times. None of those instances came last season, when the Thunder ranked last in assists at 18.5 per game.”
Nick Collison, the final chapter: “The water is so blue, Diary. Blue like the jerseys we used to wear for road games. Blue like the river that used to wind through Bricktown (Perhaps I have selective memory on the latter). I can’t believe I made it. The ocean. My God. This is some promised land, Diary. It reminds me of the first time I ate at a Charlie’s Chicken. The voices of angels mix with the wind. What I mean is, some pieces of Heaven broke off and fell down here. There are people here, Diary! Writing those words brings rivers to my eyes. NBA players, past and present, are here! Mark Price! Nick Van Exel! Ivan Johnson (of course)!
The Thunder are good at investing in the fans: “From the tip-off, er, start, it appears the Thunder’s management knew the team faced an uphill battle. Oklahoma City is the 43rd-largest metropolitan area in the U.S., so clearly, the franchise had to rely on more than just a huge fan base for success. Plus, team owners recognized there would need to be something more generating fan loyalty than solely winning championships (although making it the NBA finals certainly doesn’t hurt). They realized they’d have to make games fun, interactive and a great value. In other words, they knew had to focus like a laser on the customer experience.”
Best teams in the NBA: “The Grizzlies have the NBA’s best record. The Knicks are off to their best start in years. The Clippers have been the best team in L.A. The Spurs are still the league’s best-kept secret. And the Heat are, well, the defending champs. So who’s actually the best team in the NBA? Second-best? Third-best? And so on? Our 5-on-5 crew chimes in on the current cream of the crop.”