Tom Haberstroh of ESPN Insider: “But people (not you!) need to stop citing Westbrook’s field goal percentage when appraising Westbrook’s value. This is 2015 — why are we evaluating players like it’s 1955? Yeah, his field goal percentage looks bad (42.7 percent) but considering he gets to the line so much (12.9 free-throw attempts per game in his last 10 games), his overall shot efficiency — 53.7 true-shooting percentage — is on par with Tony Parker (54.3) and Zach Randolph (53.7) and Ryan Anderson (53.5). No one’s whining that they’re unhealthy scorers and Westbrook is creating offense at almost twice the level they are. Coaches would kill for that blend of shot creation and efficiency.”
Ben Golliver of SI.com: “Even if the Thunder simply finish 6-6, that will require a 9-3 close from the Pelicans (who own the tiebreaker thanks to a 3-1 head-to-head record) and/or at least an 8-3 closing from the Suns. Those hypothetical records are way more achievable than the ones mentioned above, especially if some of the West’s locked-in playoff teams rest their stars over the last week or two of the season, but it would still be asking both New Orleans and Phoenix to generate a level of momentum that neither team has displayed since the All-Star break. Long story short: The Thunder, thanks largely to Westbrook, are flying higher than their competition and they now must simply hang on, rather than run uphill, for the final three weeks. Perhaps something positive can be taken from this nightmare season after all, at least until they look ahead to see which team they will face in the first round of the playoffs.” Keep Reading…
With about three minutes remaining, I looked up and saw Jeremy Lamb checking in and realized I should’ve had way more of this recap written than I did. The Thunder were cruising to a unremarkable win over the Lakers, and the thing keeping my interest most was looking up stats for no reason at all.
The summary of the 48 minutes: The Lakers closed to 72-65 midway through the third quarter, Russell Westbrook checked back in, the Thunder went on a 13-2 run that featured back-to-back Westbrook layups and a staredown of the Laker bench, and then it was all formality from there.
Enes Kanter double-doubled in the first quarter and finished with 25 points, 16 rebounds and four assists. Westbrook had his 15th double-double in his last 17 games with 27 points and 11 assists (but only two rebounds pfffft). Steven Adams had 16 and 10. Dion Waiters had 23 on 10-16 shooting and once again somehow resisted the siren song of the long step-back jumper to instead attack the rim.
Annnnd that’s about it. Keep Reading…
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Time: 7:00 CT
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 107.2 (11th), Lakers – 103.5 (23rd)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 104.1 (12th), Lakers – 109.6 (28th)
Sunday’s win over the Miami Heat was the first sign of capable defense since Serge went down with injury. The perimeter defenders were sharp with rotations and communication, they fed off another deafening crowd and the bigs cleaned up around the rim all afternoon. It was a really encouraging win for this team going forward. Keep Reading…
Today we have a two part podcast! Juliet Litman of Grantland joins to talk about:
In Part II Royce Young comes on to discuss:
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When I watched Enes Kanter limp off the court in the Thunder’s win against the Celtics, my mind shifted to one of the greatest movies the 90s ever produced: Groundhog Day.
For those who refuse to enjoy the best of American cinema, Groundhog Day tells the story of a cocky, self-absorbed weatherman named Phil, who is assigned to Punxsatawney, Philadelphia for the town’s annual Groundhog Day festivities (that odd tradition where the length of winter is determined by a groundhog and his shadow). Due to a massive snowstorm, Phil and his crew are forced to stay in Punxsatawney for the night. Yet, when Phil wakes up the next morning, he slowly comes to realize he’s woken up yet again on Groundhog Day. Stuck in an unrelenting time-loop for years (and years and years), Phil tries many methods to escape his purgatory, but all to no avail. Fortunately, for Phil, a happy ending awaits. Instead of permanently wallowing in a puddle of self pity, Phil embraces his opportunity to utilize his acquired-knowledge about that fateful day to better himself, help others, and, most importantly, get the girl.
As to how this relates to the Thunder, a perpetual cycle of injuries is the Thunder’s own Groundhog Day. Just this week alone: Keep Reading…
Neil Paine of 538: “While the Thunder have continued to struggle with injuries, their chances of grabbing the No. 8 seed in the West are still 86 percent, as the Suns lost 49 percentage points of playoff probability since mid-January and the Pelicans have been treading water. Phoenix and New Orleans currently have better RPM talent ratings than Oklahoma City (despite the Suns jettisoning a lot of talent at the trade deadline), and both teams are within striking distance of the Thunder’s record. But the Suns’ remaining schedule is significantly more difficult1 than that of either Oklahoma City or New Orleans, and the Pelicans’ slim schedule and talent edges over OKC probably aren’t enough to offset a three-game deficit in the standings.”
Derek James of Hardwood Paroxysm: “Things seemed to be on the upswing in Oklahoma City no less than four months ago. With the Durant news following the Ibaka news almost immediately, everything has changed entirely. Teams lose seasons because of injury and championship dreams are dashed all the time. For the Thunder, they’re still young enough to afford to miss out on one season, and talented enough not to have their dreams of a title crushed. Losing Ibaka was one thing, but Durant going down put a ceiling on an otherwise hyper-talented team. The good news is that it’s only temporary, and the Thunder exercising caution with Durant all but ensures that. In the mean time, tell Dion to stop waving for the ball in the corner and cut to the basket or something useful.” Keep Reading…
Zach Lowe of Grantland on the Thunder without KD: “Hell, five of the 11 guys seeing active playing time right now weren’t on the roster at the start of the season. A sixth, McGary, appeared in just one game before February. This wasn’t the plan, but it’s also not an environment conducive to building continuity and chemistry. This is what the Thunder are at this point: a Westbrook-led scoring machine that needs enough 115-110 wins to eke into the postseason. There’s no real drama there. If the Thunder make the playoffs, they’ll likely get curb-stomped by the Warriors and keep the first-round pick they owe Philadelphia (via Denver); that pick is top-18 protected, and if the Thunder snag the no. 8 seed, they’ll likely finish right in the 18th spot — provided the no. 5 team in the East keeps its lead over the Thunder.”
Darnell Mayberry on Sunday’s win: “But after two months of head-shaking inconsistency defensively, the past five quarters served as a reminder that the Thunder still has some tenacity left in the tank. Injury-plagued or not, the Thunder proved Sunday that when it is committed as a team it can still be consistent defensively, if not dominant. More impressive is how the Thunder assembled Sunday’s performance without injured forward Serge Ibaka, the team’s best interior defender who is sidelined after knee surgery, and starting shooting guard Andre Roberson, the perimeter pest who sprained his left ankle 90 seconds into the game and did not return.” Keep Reading…