Zach Lowe of Grantland: “Basically, the Thunder have a lot of emphatic blowout wins against these teams and several toss-up close losses, including recent road defeats on buzzer-beaters in both Denver (Ty Lawson’s go-ahead jumper) and Memphis (Marc Gasol’s artful tip-in). That’s an encouraging portfolio on balance; several studies have found blowouts more predictive of postseason success than close wins. The margin for error gets very narrow in the late rounds of the playoffs, and the Thunder will miss Harden’s off-the-bounce creativity and dynamite passing on possessions when Kevin Durant is on the bench, Serge Ibaka’s third-option ambitions are going haywire, and/or Russell Westbrook is taking pull-up 3s in transition with 20 seconds left on the shot clock. But the Harden hole will really be isolated to those instances; the team has been fine without him in the big picture, on both ends, mostly because of incremental improvements among all of its core players (but not Derek Fisher).”
Darnell Mayberry: “In many ways, the final three games will be as challenging as the past five. Unlike the past five, the next three will come against sub-.500 teams, only one of which (Milwaukee) will make the postseason. It’ll be more of a mental challenge to take care of business in these final three than it was to get up for the previous five. Those were about executing and the Thunder playing up to its potential. These final three will be about showing up.”
Chris Broussard of ESPN.com has KD No. 2 in MVP: “Durant should have shot more, but it still was a terrific season for him. With four games left to play, Durant trails Carmelo Anthony by 0.3 PPG for the scoring title.”
KD on his throat-slash-hand-clap move: “Kill ’em and pray for ’em after the game. It’s nothing against the team I’m playing against. Come out with a mindset and be friends after the game.”
The Thunder’s win last night clinched the tiebreaker over the Spurs.
Via Berry Tramel, Durant would have to miss 23 straight shots, 13 straight 3s and six straight foul shots to miss 50-40-90.
Tyler Parker of Ballerball: “As a Thunder fan, this post season will be stressful and strange. It would appear that, fair or not, the world won’t allow it to be anything other than championship or bust. Westbrook and Durant will be put under a microscope and every moment will be dissected and twisted to fit whatever narrative the powers that be within the press are trying to be sell. They’ll say the Thunder would have won if they’d kept Harden. There will be eulogies for what we would’ve been if the CBA didn’t exist as it currently does. It will be annoying. That being said, this is an exciting time. On the verge of the playoffs, primed to make a healthy run and, maybe, if chips fall right, win the whole thing. Not all teams can say that. The Thunder can. That is cool.”