Berry Tramel: “The Thunder’s close save with the Rockets — a 105-102 victory Wednesday night that gave OKC a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series — was a little close for comfort. The Thunder led by 15 points in the fourth quarter, then Houston went on a 21-2 and led 95-91 with 31/2 minutes left, before the Thunder rallied. That’s against an overmatched, short-handed opponent, which is often the case in a series between a No. 1 seed and a No. 8 seed. So it got me to thinking. How often does an NBA Finalist have such a first-round game at home? Is it rare? Is the Thunder playing like that a sign that it’s not Finals-caliber.”
Darnell Mayberry on Russell Westbrook: “The ensuing inbounds pass went right back to Westbrook in the post. As Westbrook went into his move, backing Beverley down, Beverley tried to be physical. Too physical. He was called for his fourth foul, forcing him to sit for the next three minutes, 44 seconds. Twenty-three seconds after Beverley returned, Westbrook used a Kendrick Perkins screen to get to the basket, convert a layup and get a three-point play opportunity. It bumped the Thunder’s lead to 11 and went down as the defining moment of Westbrook’s maturation. At that point, Westbrook had won. He had gotten the best of Beverley and finally broke free from his inner demons.”
Lil’ Ken doing karate. YES.
Mark Potts for Break.com on his new found hate of James Harden (PG-13 language): “And, in a way, that’s the beauty of sports. It allows us to irrationally love a team, a set of colors, a town and a name. It lets us cheer loudly for men getting paid untold millions. We ignore hypocrisy for the good of our team. We ignore logic because logic hurts our pride. And it is ours. It brings us together in a stadium filled with angry, stupid, almost barbaric fans and find some sort of unity. The first Yankees game after 9/11 was incredibly emotional even if you weren’t there or a Yankees fan. It implied that we weren’t going to stop being normal, being crazy, being sports fans. The Red Sox game after the recent Boston Marathon bombing was the same way. These sports, basketball, football, baseball, soccer (or fútbol if you will), these kids games that we pay tons for and pay people tons to play, brings us together in a wonderful hurricane of irrationality, pettiness, and pride. As for James Harden? Well, he was amazing to watch. But now? He’s nobody to me.”
Rick Pitino got his tattoo. COME ON SCOTTY.
J.A. Adande of ESPN.com: “The next step would have to be a no-post offense. I’m thinking Oklahoma City Thunder. Notice how Kevin Durant is more effective up top than on the block. Watching the Thunder against the Rockets made me realize it’s pointless for us to ask Durant to go to the low post. He’s easier to double-team down there, and the possession is more likely to end up in a 3-pointer by Russell Westbrook or Thabo Sefolosha. I’d rather have Durant pulling up for a 3 or driving to the hoop. A Thunder championship would also mean a breakthrough for the elite point guards. As much as we celebrate the likes of Westbrook, Chris Paul and Deron Williams (welcome back to the convo, D-Will) and debate who’s better, none of them has won it all. Westbrook is the only one to even reach the NBA Finals.”
The numbers for KD in the post obviously indicate he needs to go there more, not less. He’s one of the most effective post players in the league, per play. But I see Adande’s point here too: Durant is too effective, and teams just double him right away. So by posting Durant, you’re actually almost taking the ball out of his hands, because he’s got to kick to someone else.