Henry Abbott of TrueHoop looking ahead to playoff matchups: “This stat geek’s delight and James Harden reunion tour could be a wake-up call to the Thunder. The Rockets won’t roll over for anyone. By the time the Thunder move on, they’ll be battle-tested. The rest-sensitive Spurs aren’t that far ahead in the standings, however, and are unlikely to go all out every game down the stretch, however. Catching them would mean homecourt advantage in a likely Western Conference Finals matchup, which has some real value.”
Darnell Mayberry on Wall vs. Westbrook: “The matchup will pit two of the most electrifying point guards in the game against each other but, for Westbrook, it will simply be another opportunity to string together more success over other elite players at his position. Since the start of the 2010-11 season, the year Westbrook became an All-Star, Westbrook is 18-18 in head-to-head matchups against Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Tony Parker, Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams, Kyrie Irving and Wall. He has a losing record against only Parker (2-6) and Irving (1-2). With the exception of a few occasions, Westbrook and his marquee matchup generally have canceled each other out. That wasn’t the case throughout much of Westbrook’s first three seasons, when his supercharged emotions either got the best of him or spurred him to a victory in the showdown.”
The Thunder had a replacement coach at practice yesterday, and the question is, what did she do about Derek Fisher?!?!
Chad Ford’s latest big board. In the 6-10 range, where OKC likely will pick, there’s Victor Oladipo, Shabazz Muhammad, Cody Zeller, Trey Burke, Gary Harris and Alex Len.
Ford on Oladipo: “The Oladipo bandwagon is running at full speed again. After a tough game against Wisconsin in the Big Ten tournament (4-for-12 from the field) and a so-so outing in a blowout against James Madison in the opening round of the NCAA tourney, Oladipo saved the Hoosiers’ season Sunday. After he and the entire team struggled to contain Temple’s Khalif Wyatt in the first half, Oladipo shut Wyatt down in the last six minutes of the game and then came up with a game-winning 3 with 15 seconds left to put the Hoosiers in the Sweet 16. Oladipo’s toughness defensively, combined with that improved jump shot on the offensive end, make him a very intriguing pick.”
Kelly Dwyer of BDL on the eight-seed: “Seven days, three losses, and suddenly the lower part of the West’s playoff bracket is worth paying attention to. The rolling Houston Rockets are in no danger of falling out of seventh place, so it will come down to the perplexing Lakers, the improving Dallas Mavericks, and the frustrating Utah Jazz for that final spot in the West. The Lakers currently hold the last spot, up a game on Utah and a game and a half on Dallas, but as we’ve learned dozens of times during this odd 2012-13 season, anything can happen with Los Angeles. Anything that’s mostly awful.”