Zach Lowe of Grantland picks KD as MVP: “Durant is the NBA’s most polished scorer, but he’s not in LeBron’s league as a passer, and he remains mostly an outside-in creator. The Thunder’s vanilla offense and spacing issues place artificial limits on the variety in Durant’s game, and the guy is still just 25. Still, he has been better than James this season. The Thunder leaned upon Durant to soak up a larger share of the team’s possessions than ever before, and Durant somehow maintained his ludicrous efficiency — 50 percent from the floor, 40 percent from 3-point range, and nearly 90 percent from the line. He improved on the pick-and-roll, blowing away his previous career-best passing numbers. Durant was uneven in the clutch by his standards, but some of that falls on Scott Brooks, and Durant still nailed a pile of big buckets.”
Anthony Slater with playoff scenarios: “The Thunder will clinch the second seed if it beats the Pistons at home on Wednesday OR the Clippers lose one of their final two games (vs Denver on Tuesday, at Portland on Wednesday). If OKC finishes as the two-seed — still the most likely scenario — it will face the winner of the Mavericks and Grizzlies game on Wednesday in Memphis. Both teams enter with identical records, meaning the winner gets the seventh seed. If the Thunder loses its final game to Detroit AND the Clippers win their final two, OKC will fall to the third seed. Both teams would finish with identical 58-24 records, but L.A. would hold the tiebreaker because of a better conference record. In that scenario, the Thunder would face the Warriors, who clinched the sixth seed on Monday night.”
Darnell Mayberry: “I’ll give Durant credit for this. He answered each and every question asked of him after the game. He didn’t get angry. He didn’t get offended. He just sat at his stall and carried himself like an All-Pro. (Sidenote: I always hate when players lash out at the media. Not because I’m a member of the media. But because whatever anger and passion a player wants to show in the locker room should have been displayed on the court. But I digress.) And for the second straight day, Durant looked himself in the mirror, analyzed his performance the way he saw it and supplied his feelings on his off night.”
Dirk on KD copying him: “I’m not even sure if he needs it,” Nowitzki said. “I mean, he’s one of the best players on the planet. He’s already got the whole package. Credit to him that he loves working out, he loves getting better. And he’s already one of the best players ever or in the league now. He’s constantly in the gym, working out on the road, working out at home. That’s a credit to him being hungry and constantly improving. To me, he’s got the whole package. He can shoot off the dribble, he can post, he can shoot from 3 anywhere. He’s already pretty good.”
Marc Stein has OKC No. 2 in power rankings: “Not much of a reward for the heavy MVP favorite: Kevin Durant’s Thunder might well have to see the Grizzlies and then the Clippers just to get to what is generally seen as a favorable matchup with San Antonio in the Western Conference finals … barring some 11th-hour seed shuffling.”
John Schuhmann of NBA.com has the same: “Unless the Heat buckle down defensively in their final two games, the Thunder will be the only team to finish in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency each of the last three seasons. That doesn’t mean anything if they can’t win a championship, but why can’t they? They’re 33-12 with Russell Westbrook, they’ve owned the Spurs recently, and as noted, they get it done on both ends.”
Berry Tramel: “The Spurs won the West in 2013. They staggered into the playoffs, going 3-7 in their final 10 games. Then they zipped to the NBA Finals losing just two games total in three series. The Mavericks won the West in 2011. They won their final four games of the regular season. But Dallas lost its four games before that stretch. And won its five games before that. And lost five of eight before that. Those Mavs were a streaky team. The Lakers won the West in 2010. They went 4-7 in their final 11 games of the regular season, including 3-6 in their final nine. So none of the previous four West champions have played well in April going into the playoffs. That’s good news for the Thunder. Here’s even better news. No D-League team awaits in the postseason.”
The question I have been asked more than any other the past couple days is if the Thunder will play on Saturday or Sunday to open the playoffs. First off, nobody knows. Why would anyone know yet? We don’t even know the matchups. Secondly, why the obsession? Why is everyone consumed with knowing Saturday or Sunday? I’ve probably been asked this 50 times now. Rant over.