Matt Moore of CBSSports.com imagining a Point Guard of the Year award: “I consider, in all honesty, Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook to be more impactful players than Tony Parker. They’re able to take the game over in a way that Parker is not. Their individual talents, be it athleticism, shot-making, creativity, put them at a higher level than Parker this season. But a point guard? Parker commands the best offense in the league. Even if Oklahoma City’s is the best according to the metrics (110.3 per 100 possessions) and San Antonio’s is only fourth (107.3 per 100 possessions), the Spurs’ offense is widely regarded as the toughest to defend. They simply force you into too many impossible decisions.”
Anthony Slater of NewsOK on the opposite paths of KD and Beasley: “His once-promising career, now out of its infant stage, is in complete reconstruction. Once viewed as a sure-fire immediate starter, he’s now working through the baby steps of a rebuild job, for his image and game. But he’s only 24. So it’s still far too early to label him as a bust. And at times this season, including a 25-point performance against Durant’s Thunder last Friday, he’s flashed the unique ability that intrigue and frustrate so many at the same time. There’s still plenty of time to figure it out. But fair or not, because of the similar paths they took (from pre-teens to late teens), Beasley will always be linked to Durant (one of the most prolific young scorers in NBA history). Where will each career go from here? Who knows. But it’s an interesting case study.”
Marc Stein’s power rankings have OKC third: “The previous week was about as bad as it ever gets for OKC thanks to an L in Cleveland and the Russell Westbrook blowup that preceded it. So how do the Thunder respond? Four straight W’s by 21 or more, building some decent momentum to take into the Valentine’s Day biggie with Miami.”
John Schuhmann of NBA.com has them No. 2: “The Thunder are back to winning more than one game in a row and, after holding the Suns to 69 points on Sunday, are back in the top five defensively for the first time since Week 2. So it’s a good time for another meeting with the champs, which comes Thursday. Going back to Game 2 of The Finals, they’ve allowed the Heat to score 112 points per 100 possessions over five games.”
Russell Westbrook won Western player of the week yesterday, and did it a week after his meltdown while not playing at all in the fourth quarter. Not bad for a guy that supposedly can’t lead OKC tot a title because of his emotions.
KD via NewsOK: “Hopefully we can get a nice little streak going here,” Durant said, half-jokingly, of sitting out the entire fourth. “It feels good to cheer on my teammates in the fourth quarters and play so well that we don’t have to play the fourth quarters. I’m sure it’s not going to be like that for a long time. But we got to continue to keep playing well, and when the fourth quarter comes around I try to do my thing.”
Jenni Carlson: “That’s why this game Thursday against the Heat is such a big one for Westbrook. He needs to play better against these guys. He needs to walk off the floor feeling good and have something to build on should these teams meet again in The Finals. Serenity Now Russ is going to be tested like never before. Will he survive? We’re about to find out.”