Zach Lowe of Grantland: “It’s also worth noting that many in the “Why did they trade Harden now??!” crowd in October also recommended at least waiting until the trade deadline. That would obviously not have helped here. The Maynor trade is exactly the reason you draft Jackson. Maynor’s going to be a free agent this summer, and he was shooting 31 percent in Oklahoma City while recovering from his own sad knee injury. He was better in Portland, but still shot just 42 percent with a 10.6 Player Efficiency Rating — well below the league average. In the final analysis, this is a horrible bit of bad luck that very likely wipes a title contender off the map. The Thunder should still beat Houston, and they could still win the Western Conference; Durant is that good, and a solid supporting cast is still here. But they’re underdogs now, and they’ll probably be underdogs in the next round, against whomever they face, if they get there. That’s life in the NBA.”
Rob Mahoney of SI.com: “An added complication comes by way of a game progression in which Westbrook often functions as a first-quarter dynamo. Only one other player (Carmelo Anthony) posted a higher usage rate in first quarters this season, in large part because Oklahoma City head coach Scott Brooks has built his team’s early game offense around Westbrook’s inextinguishable energy. One can almost hear Westbrook’s motor revving from the moment his sneakers hit hardwood, and from the opening tip he surges and screams as if every possession were the emotional climax of a Game 7. He’s pure kinetic energy, and though a player like Jackson may be able to match Westbrook’s end-to-end speed, he won’t produce comparably and can’t manage the same instant electricity. That’s a bit less tangible than some of the Thunder’s other concerns, but the kind of dynamic that shouldn’t be overlooked in terms of how Oklahoma City goes about managing this unexpected loss.”
Ethan Sherwood Strauss in a 5-on-5: “Blaming Beverley for this is as logical as blaming Westbrook for this, and I’m of the opinion that you should blame neither. This incident was a little like how Moises Alou’s rage pegged Steve Bartman as the scapegoat. If a pained, peeved Russ hadn’t reacted with such anger, Beverley’s swipe would have been dismissed as the mundane basketball play it was. Instead, Westbrook’s reaction put the spotlight on Beverley and gave fans a vessel for their aggravation.”
Matt Moore of CBSSports.com on how OKC adapts: “Fisher can hit a few open shots, I guess, if he’s on. He’s also incredibly slow due to age, limited in his effectiveness on both ends of the floor and a liability in pick and rolls. But he’s a veteran, and coaches trust veterans. This will be the key decision for Brooks. If he makes the wrong call either way, it could have seriously harmful effects. Once you make a decision, going back on it quickly is difficult in the midst of a series. The Thunder have other concerns in terms of their rotations, keeping rest for Durant and the flow of the game. But this gives you an idea of where the adjustments are going to come from and how big of a hole the Thunder are looking to fill on short notice, with title aspirations on the line, however long Westbrook is out.”
ESPN Stats and Info: “Russell Westbrook has averaged 23.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game with the Thunder in the postseason. Only 2 other players since the ABA-NBA merger have hit each of those 3 marks in their postseason careers.”
David Thorpe of ESPN.com: “Kevin Martin can do more. Kevin Martin has been a dynamic scorer in the past. Even this year, when much less has been asked of him, he has formed one of the NBA’s most efficient duos with Nick Collison. They are literally one of the most effective combinations of players in the NBA. Martin can certainly handle more of the scoring load against the Rockets, who are one of the worst defensive teams in the playoffs.”
Via Bovada, Westbrook’s injury dropped OKC’s title odds from 4/1 to 7/1. They went from the Western Conference favorites (11/10) to tied with the Spurs now (3/2).
Chris Paul: “[Westbrook] is a really good friend of mine, and I actually talked to him before we came to practice this morning,” Paul said. “I told him I feel for him, and praying for him, and I hope he’s back soon.”
Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com: “If we’re going to scrutinize Presti’s moves, we may be focusing our attention on the wrong former Thunder guard. Ahead of this year’s trade deadline, Presti basically gave Eric Maynor away to Portland after he lost his job as backup point guard to Reggie Jackson. Maynor was coming off major knee surgery and was set to be a restricted free agent this summer and, evidently, the Thunder weren’t willing to pay up. Boy, could the Thunder use him now. But instead of letting his contract run out at the end of the season, Presti sent Maynor to Portland in exchange for the draft rights to Olympiacos forward Georgios Printezis, a 28-year-old nonprospect whose rights have been passed all around the league — the Thunder are the sixth NBA team to hold his rights and he’s never played a game. In Portland, Maynor shot 38 percent from downtown and had 4.0 assists per game in just 21.2 minutes of action as Damian Lillard’s backup.”
Berry Tramel: “Winning with Westbrook wasn’t going to be easy. Winning without will be a monumental challenge. But no one outside of Thunderville cares. Winning is all that matters in the NBA playoffs. All of which means the Thunder gets to show how tough it is. Without Kobe, the Lakers scratched their way into the playoffs. Without Rajon Rondo, the Celtics kept their head above water. The Spurs maintain excellence no matter who goes out, which San Antone’s stars frequently do. So no excuses for the Thunder. Find a way to win without Westbrook.”
Via Tramel, a knee surgeon on Westbrook’s injury: “Geier said if Westbrook has the more extensive repair, he would need to stay off his feet for several weeks. “No weight bearing,” Geier said. “Limit motion to certain range. You have to get the meniscus to heal.” But Geier said when it’s merely a trim, patients often are on their feet that day and can proceed as much as pain tolerance allows. “It takes a little time to get the swelling down,” Geier said. “Most people are walking around the house, around town, in two or three days. Then lightly jogging.” Geier said the pain associated with a meniscus tear is not constant. “It’s typically twisting-type motions,” Geier said. “Planting your foot, changing directions. It’s very hard to play basketball because of the twisting and cutting motions.” Geier said that typically, there is nothing preventing immediate surgery. “Basically when it’s best for the athlete,” Geier said. “Would not at all surprise me if he already had the surgery or had it sometime today.”
Just want to dap Sarah and Tonya, two cool Thunder ladies that are blogging about the team from a very female perspective. Check ’em out.