Monday Bolts – 3.20.17

Chris Haynes of ESPN.com: “The Warriors’ belief, according to sources, is that the Thunder’s silence contributed to the raw emotions, outrage and indignation that created an unsettling, hostile atmosphere for a player many consider to be the franchise’s all-time best. The Warriors felt, according to sources, that for a player who meant so much to a city — a small-market city at that — a courtesy greeting was in order from top brass, who should have issued their fans a reminder and proper perspective on Durant’s role in elevating the Thunder into a perennial championship-contending team. There was no mention from the in-game operations staff about Durant’s return.”

Fred Katz: “The theme is simply different now with Durant unable to play. It’s about whether the Warriors can stay afloat without their arguable best player. It’s about Westbrook’s triple-doubles. He needs seven in the Thunder’s final 13 games to tie NBA legend Oscar Robertson for the single-season record. The concentration has veered from reality TV to just normal sports. It’s the No. 1 seed in the West vs. the No. 6 seed. It’s a team only two games up for the conference’s best record against a group only two back of No. 4 in a year it wasn’t necessarily supposed to climb that high. It’s a current Most Valuable Player candidate contrast the reigning two-time MVP. There’s no lack of drama. It’s just that the theater is coming on the court, not off it.”

I wrote something on how Russell Westbrook can finally fully be Russell Westbrook.

Erik Horne: “The Thunder is in rebuilding mode, trying to find the ideal fit of players around Westbrook. But in a league driven by stars, how close is OKC to getting another All-Star alongside the MVP candidate? As the Thunder continues to build a team around Westbrook eight months after the departure of Kevin Durant, it does so with the understanding that the NBA is star-driven. Anthony wants to play with LeBron James and Chris Paul. Durant has teamed up with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Stars are teaming up via free agency and trades more than ever before. It doesn’t leave much room for the teams without two All-Star caliber players to vie for a title. One of the favorites for the NBA championship, Golden State, returns to Oklahoma City on Monday with a team of four All-Stars.”

Matt Moore of CBSSports.com has OKC 8th: “OKC’s playing its best basketball at the right time. They host the KD-less Warriors again Monday, then face the Beard’s Rockets next weekend. They need a good week to keep putting pressure on Utah for the fourth seed.”

Russ is up to 97 percent on the triple-double chances.

Erik Horne: “Westbrook’s right. Despite the Westbrook vs. Kevin Durant storyline, Zaza Pachulia’s posturing, and a seven-game slugfest in last season’s playoffs, the definition of a rivalry wouldn’t apply to Thunder-Warriors as they prepare to clash Monday for the final time this regular season. That definition started to dissipate even before Durant bolted for the Bay Area. Outside of the Thunder pressing Golden State in the Western Conference finals last season, the matchup has been in favor of the Warriors the past three regular seasons.”