Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports: “Before Kevin Durant, this was Chris Paul’s town. With the New Orleans Hornets displaced by Hurricane Katrina, Paul spent part of his first two NBA seasons here. He wore OKC on his chest, and he won over the fans with his passion and relentlessness. This was football country, Sooner Nation, but Paul gave them a reason to believe in the NBA. On Monday night, Oklahoma City once again belonged to him. Paul buried Durant and he buried the NBA franchise he helped deliver here, making eight 3-pointers in a stunning 32-point, 10-assist performance that had many of those same fans who once cheered for him now trudging toward the exits in frustration.”
Berry Tramel: “Paul is some kind of player. Heck, he was a great offensive player back in his Oklahoma City days, when he couldn’t shoot. Remember what we figured out a month into that maiden Hornet season in OKC. The kid rookie needs to shoot more. Now that Paul is an old man (he turned 29 Tuesday), a perennial all-star, it’s still solid advice. The Clippers rode his shooting to an easy victory and now lead the series.” Keep Reading…
Kevin Durant hit a transition 3, and you could see it — freedom. The Thunder finally had those Memphis shackles off, and the floor had grown from what seemed to be 74×25 to its actual dimensions of 94×50. The Thunder led 16-10, the sea of blue was frothing and it was on.
The Clippers called timeout, and J.J. Redick hit a 3 right out of it. Then Chris Paul hit one. Then Chris Paul hit another one. Then Chris Paul hit another one. Then Chris Paul hit another one. Then Chris Paul hit another one. Or at least that’s what it seemed like. The Clippers erupted on a 19-4 run in what felt like 10 seconds and turned the Thunder’s positive start into an early deficit.
And then they piled on. Keep Reading…
Pretty much every pregame thought is already here, and the TL;DR of it all is essentially this: The Thunder seem to have an advantage in top tier players while the Clippers have excellent depth and can create matchup issues. It should be a really good, competitive series between two very solid teams.
Tip at 8:30 CT. Go Second Round.
Round 2, new opponent, new problems. Here are 10 thoughts about Thunder-Clippers:
1. Does the season series tell us anything? The Thunder and Clippers split it 2-2, with caveats on most of the games except the last. In the first meeting, a 111-103 Clipper win, Serge Ibaka was ejected right before halftime after starting the game 6-6 from the field. The second, the Thunder won in OKC 105-91 in impressive fashion. The third, the Clippers rolled into OKC the second game back for Westbrook and shredded the Thunder 125-117. And the fourth, the one with a playoff feel as the importance of the No. 2 seed hung in the balance, the Thunder held on for a 107-101 win behind 30 from Westbrook.
So, like I asked myself and then didn’t answer, did we learn anything from those four games? Mostly, my takeaway from them is that both teams are very good, and both teams can win any given game. So much of the way both play is based around sh0t making. The Thunder have always defended Chris Paul pretty well, and have the interior muscle to bang with Blake Griffin. But Jamal Crawford is a massive problem, as is the transition attack the Clippers have. Keep Reading…
What we have here in the Oklahoma City Thunder is a team with resiliency and onions. A team that, despite all the frustrations that come with cheering for them, always play hard. And if you can get through the rocky times, the times when they look lost and forgot how to properly play offense, and get to the moments where they look smooth and together and the ball is going to where it needs to go, then it’s beautiful. It was gorgeous in Games 6 and 7. It felt good. Let’s keep that good feeling going.
Let’s take a look at The Forecast. Keep Reading…
Anthony Slater: “With the Clippers coming to town on Monday night for the start of an intriguing second-round tilt, Ibaka’s matchup with Sooner legend and Clippers superstar Blake Griffin is front and center. Scott Brooks has already tried to deflect responsibility, saying the assignment of guarding Griffin will be a “team effort.” But in reality, it’ll likely fall primarily and almost exclusively to Ibaka. Steven Adams, Nick Collison and Kendrick Perkins will get a few cracks. But if he stays out of foul trouble, Ibaka is clearly the best option. Griffin is too quick for the others and too powerful for nearly every fleet-footed big man in the league. But with Ibaka, a well-built high-flyer, Griffin is staring at the rare human who is in his same athletic stratosphere.”
Berry Tramel: “So it’s not like Oklahomans ever cut the cord from those two. Not like they shirked Oklahoma. Griffin was drafted by the Clips. Paul went back to New Orleans. Nothing anybody could do about it. And there’s nothing anybody can do about their return. They are wearing red. Advancing to the West finals means more than some sentimental homecoming. They are trying to take the Thunder’s lunch money. And when this series is over, they are not going to be well-loved in their old haunt of OKC.” Keep Reading…
Another fun event and great ticket value for Game 1 against the Clippers being organized by long-time DT sponsor Totally Tickets. For Game 1 against the Clippers on Monday, there’s going to be a limited pregame party and ticket package available.
For $150, you get a lower level ticket and can enjoy some pregame “festivities” at the Totally Tickets lounge in Bricktown (between In the Raw and Texadelphia). (Note: The lounge is really cool.) Tickets can be picked up at the Bricktown location.
If you’re interested, call 295-2222. The office opens up at 8:30 a.m. But be aware: Space is extremely limited. As in 16 total. Limit four tickets, and you must be 21 or older. Hint hint.