While we wait.
Matt Moore of CBSSports.com on Russell Westbrook: “There’s been a subtle shift this year from Westbrook. The aggressiveness is there, the mistakes have been tempered. He has, time and again, made it clear he understands Durant needs the ball late in the game. At the same time, he’s passing less (his assist rate is down 12.8 percent), scoring more. The criticism has actually fueled him to be an even better scorer. He’s taken over games to get them back into it or to take the lead in the late third and early fourth quarters. (His work in the third quarter of the Spurs series was nothing short of masterful.) He has his role, important and prominent and often brilliant on this team. But he no longer is so fired up that he’s sacrificing the team at the altar of aggression.”
Rick Reilly of ESPN.com on the LeBron-KD matchup: “It feels like a watershed moment, like there is just enough rocket fuel to launch one to greatness, not the other. If James doesn’t win this one, if Durant gets a ring first, Durant may have such confidence James will never beat him, the window will have closed, the student will snatch the pebble and never return. As ever, all the pressure is on James. Lose and it’s another offseason of unkempt beards and unanswered questions. But win and he blows some of that blast furnace onto Durant, redirects the hounds, leaves him simmering in all those insomnia worries about unfulfilled promise. Stuff like, “What good is owning scoring titles but no real ones?” Me, I like James. Durant’s day will come soon enough. Followed by so many more. But my Lord, this could be good. And to think they almost canceled this season.” Keep Reading…
OKLAHOMA CITY –On the eve of the NBA Freaking Finals, Oklahoma City is a mess. Buzzing with anticipation, buzzing with excitement.
The biggest event in state history is about 24 hours away. The fans are jacked beyond belief, as they should be. But the players, the players have to keep cool. Keep a level head. Obviously they’re psyched to be playing in the NBA Finals, something they’ve all dreamed about, but it’s just another game and that’s the message they’re preaching.
It’s not helping matters that the Thunder are playing the Miami Heat and giving us maybe the biggest individual matchup in 20 years.
So yeah, no big deal. Just like the biggest NBA Finals ever are happening in OKC. Which naturally has everyone talking experience and age all over again. Keep Reading…
Over the past four days, no matter what I’m doing, one thought jumps into my brain every minute or so. Other than, “Has it been long enough for me to eat something again?” I mean.
Holy $%@!, the Oklahoma City Thunder are in the NBA Finals.
I know this was always part of the plan and we all acted like we knew it was eventually coming, but until the moment really was here, until Perk sealed it with a two-handed dunk, that reality still seemed like a dream. It’s different to just talk about getting to The Finals, and to actually get to The Finals.
And that’s where the Thunder are. Four wins away. Four from hanging a banner. Four from rings. Four from assured legacy. Four from Oklahoma City immortality.
Back for a regular episode, the guys are joined by Royce Young and Nick Gelso of clnsradio.com to give us a look at the finals from a team (Boston) that’s battled LeBron and the Heat in the post season more often than most.
All this and tons more…
Download, listen and comment.
Anthony Macri for ESPN.com: “One of the things that Miami’s defense tends to do very well is contest every catch and force players to make one-on-one decisions against closeouts. They choke off passing lanes and their length forces teams into difficult shots, especially when Bosh is healthy and contributing big minutes. His presence allows the Heat defenders to press up and get into the feet of their opponents, and offenses tend to back away from this kind of pressure. Oklahoma City, however, may be able to thrive in this situation. The one-on-one ability of their “Big Three,” especially the always-in-control Harden, could become a difference-maker in this series. Miami closes out so hard that the Thunder’s ability to take advantage of the tendency to over-pursue could make a huge difference.”
Paul Forrester of SI.com: “The Thunder seem to have all the pieces in place to play for championships for many years: young stars in Durant, Westbrook and Harden, an improving, 22-year-old power forward in Serge Ibaka, a defensive-minded center in Kendrick Perkins and unselfish role players such as Nick Collison. But it won’t be long before small-market Oklahoma City is forced to confront the question of whether general manager Sam Presti will be able to keep the team together, especially if it means having to pay the luxury tax. The Thunder might have to become a taxpaying team to retain both Harden and Ibaka, who are set to be restricted free agents in 2013, unless they agree to contract extensions after this season. Are the Thunder willing to spend like a big market?” Keep Reading…
The NBA Finals are a huge machine of everything that’s descending upon Oklahoma City this week. Drama, the NBA’s brightest stars, important people and people who think they are important, perhaps the brightest media spotlight ever to shine on Oklahoma that doesn’t involve tragedy, disaster or scandal: It’s all coming, and it’s coming all at once.
Thus dawns a new era in Oklahoma City and for the precocious Thunder. Now that the NBA Finals are here, and an NBA title is four wins away, some things are going to change that won’t be changing back for this hopefully-a-decade-or-longer current Thunder era and beyond.
From the team’s perspective, the first permanent change is the obvious. Keep Reading…
Obviously full preview and other stuff to come, but five quick thoughts on the Thunder’s matchup with the Heat in the NBA Finals.
1. I’ll be honest: I wanted it to be Boston. Really bad. I was pretty sure that if the Thunder drew the Celtics for in The Finals, Oklahoma City was going to sweep. I think my official prediction would’ve been OKC in five, but that’s just because I was going to try and remain reasonable. The Thunder’s youth, athleticism, speed and ability to turn defense into offense was just going to overwhelm the Celtics. Boston could’ve taken a game or two just by pure heart and determination, but I couldn’t see any way the Celtics were going to win four against OKC. Keep Reading…