Darnell Mayberry on Caron Butler: “What happened? That’s the question we’re left asking ourselves. What happened to Butler when the season’s calendar switched to the postseason? All that he did well in the regular season dried up in the playoffs. No longer was he an accurate shooter, a reliable defender or a contributor in any other tangible way. He scored in double figures only three times in 18 postseason games and averaged 6.3 points on 32.4 percent shooting in the playoffs. Things got so bad for Butler that Scott Brooks had no choice but to bench him for the Thunder’s season-ending Game 6 loss against San Antonio. He didn’t play a second of that game.”
Anthony Slater on Reggie Jackson: “Jackson’s unique offensive ability — he’s an improving outside shooter and, percentage-wise, one of the league’s best finishers — makes him impossible to keep off the court. So starter or not, he’ll average nearly 30 minutes next season, meaning his defensive improvements will directly result in team-wide defensive improvements. Or a lack of growth could hold the Thunder back. It’s up to Jackson during an offseason that carries great importance for the now-established 24-year-old.”
Trey Kerby interviewing Jimmy Goldstein, who says OKC is the best place to watch a game in the league, and says Russell Westbrook is the best dressed player.
Ethan Strauss of ESPN.com on the Spurs: “Game 3 wasn’t shocking, even though the Spurs killed the Heat at home. Big losses happen sometimes, even at home. Sometimes a team gets hot. What’s shocking is they did it again in Game 4. That’s the Spurs for you. It’s not just that they achieve brilliance on the court, it’s that they keep sustaining it. They’re perhaps the most floor-bound team in the NBA, but they now seem like someone who jumps impressively high and confoundingly never comes back down to earth.”
Rob Mahoney of SI.com on Melo to the Heat: “Maybe Anthony is ready to take that plunge: The pay cut, the supporting role, the change in responsibility, the statistical depression. Even if so, Anthony’s interests aren’t the only ones in play. Stein’s report notes that James might be willing to sacrifice some salary on a new contract as a tradeoff for off-court business interests. Anthony could perhaps benefit similarly, as might Wade and Bosh to a lesser extent. But before we even get that far, where is the motivation for Haslem — who, again, has a player option that could complicate this entire, delicate arrangement — to drop his $4.6 million player option when he’s unlikely to fetch much more than the veteran minimum on the open market? That would be an incredible gift, even for a player with as positive and long-lasting a relationship as Haslem’s with the Heat.”
Ben Golliver of SI.com on his favorite playoff moment so far: “This was pure old school. Tony Parker out injured, the Spurs hoping to close the door, the Thunder fighting desperately to keep their season alive. Where does Gregg Popovich go? To Tim Duncan, of course, who delivered time after time, scoring seven straight points in overtime against Serge Ibaka, arguably the league’s best defensive player and one of the major figures in this series. Duncan broke out the slow-down post moves, got to the free throw line and hit an around-and-in turnaround jumper over a player 14 years his junior. This was one of the league’s all-time greats, putting his franchise on his back and carrying them to a Finals rematch with the Heat that they had been eyeing for 12 months. If San Antonio can find a way to prevail over Miami in the Finals, we’ll look back at Duncan’s will in the Western Conference finals as one of the major, and most satisfying, landmarks on their road to victory.”