- Changes with Billy Donovan
- KD to the Warriors
- Thunder vs Warriors
- Who plays more minutes on Saturday Singler or Kanter?
- Warriors weakness
- and much more!
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ESPN.com’s Zach Lowe published a deep dive look at the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday as part of his weekly column. If you haven’t read it yet, set aside some give it a look. Out of the material presented in the column, some of them may be seen as bitter pills that have to be swollowed, but there’s a lot of optimism in there.
Anthony Slater: “Back in late October, the game went similarly. Orlando stuck around by scorching OKC’s defense, but couldn’t pull out the win because of Durant’s and Westbrook’s heroics. That night, Westbrook hit a 40-foot bank shot to send it to overtime, and the Thunder wound up winning 139-136. Westbrook finished with 43 points, Durant with 41. In total, Westbrook compiled 72 points, 30 rebounds and 22 assists against the Magic in two games this season. Durant compiled 80 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists. Orlando, mercilessly, doesn’t have to face either the rest of the season.”
Jeremias Engelmann of ESPN Insider on overrated players: “When Utah traded Kanter to OKC last February, the Jazz immediately became the NBA’s best defensive team. Meanwhile, the Thunder saw their defensive efficiency decline markedly with Kanter on the floor. They allowed 112 points per 100 possessions when Kanter played, but only 103 points with him sitting. This season, we have basically the same results: The Thunder allow 109 with Kanter and only 101 without him. Despite being 6-foot-11, Kanter is no rim protector, posting one of the 10 worst block rates among players his size in the past six seasons. All of this is reflected in his defensive RPM, which is second worst in the league among centers at -2.88. On the whole, Kanter’s RPM is -2.45, fourth worst among the league’s 77 centers, which makes him more of a problem than a max player.” Keep Reading…
These kind of games are the worst.
Here it is, all about Russell Westbrook and his relentless, incredible performance, coming up an assist and a rebound short of 20-20-15 (he had 24 points, 19 rebounds and 14 assists), and then Kevin Durant messes it all up with a game-winning 3 with 0.5 seconds left, 117-114.
How do you write about this stuff?
Let’s just start with the quick summary: So, fast-forward to 29 seconds left — and trust me, the first 47 minutes and 31 seconds were pretty good — where Westbrook bumrushed his way to the rim to tie the game at 114-114. The Magic got an iso with Victor Oladipo — who had 37 — covered by Serge Ibaka. Oladipo drove, Ibaka swatted it off the glass, and while he was flashing his thumbsdown, Billy Donovan was signaling play on.
Dion Waiters tossed it to Durant, who walked it up the court, rocked Tobias Harris a couple of times and uncorked a 28-foot fireball to win it. Keep Reading…
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Team Comparisons (per NBA.com/Stats)
Surprise, surprise. In the days leading up to the primetime match-up between the Thunder and Golden State Warriors on Saturday, articles are being published suggesting Golden State may be the front-runner in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes. And these articles aren’t being written by your run of the mill, wannabe blog writing fanboys (such as myself). Instead, they are being written by prominent NBA writers with contacts and sources within the league. And it’s all by design.
It’s called click-bait. If two months ago, an NFL writer wrote an article about the racial double standard reactions to Cam Newton’s on the field antics versus a prominent white quarterback’s on the field antics, it wouldn’t make as much news as if the article was published in the week leading up to a Super Bowl involving Newton. If that same “Durant to Golden State” article was published a month ago, it wouldn’t get as many viewers as if it was published in the week leading up to the game. Keep Reading…
Erik Horne: “In just two seasons, Ibaka has seen his field goal attempts within 10 feet of the rim go from 45.4 percent of his shots to 32.5. He’s become a skilled 3-point shooter, one of 12 players this season 6-foot-10 or taller shooting better than 35 percent from 3-point range (minimum 100 attempts). When asked if his numbers decline is a result of his game getting farther away from the basket, Ibaka stood at his locker Monday night and made a face as if a light bulb went off. ‘It’s an interesting point people don’t understand,’ he said. ‘It’s tough. Four years ago, I used to be in the paint most of the time, so I used to get more blocks, more rebounds. Now the way they play, we have to change.'”
If you somehow missed it, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports: “The Golden State Warriors’ plan of pursuit predates their 2015 championship run, a bold plot to declare the futility of resistance. It isn’t only that the NBA champions are determined to recruit Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, the truth is that they’re the most intriguing destination to him. If Durant leaves the Thunder, the Warriors are the significant frontrunners to sign him, league sources told The Vertical.” Keep Reading…
In the past I’ve been moved to write something in retaliation to questionable Thunder commentary. Today is a new thing for me: I feel the urge to write a few thoughts in response to a damn good look at the Thunder by ESPN’s Zach Lowe. Go read it now if you haven’t already. Then read it again. I could not be more serious.
I’ve got a few thoughts to add and for the sake of brevity, I’m only tackling about half the things I want to.
“It’s fitting that the star-crossed Thunder, in their year of reckoning, have the bad luck of playing championship-level basketball during the season in which two super teams are testing the limits of greatness.”
The highest Margin of Victory since the 1979 season (I typically draw a line when the three point line was introduced) was the 12.24 points per game posted by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. Both the Warriors and Spurs are besting that number THIS SEASON. Since that imaginary line, the NBA has never had two teams post double digit MOV’s in the same season. The Celtics (9.41) ad Bucks (9.04) came close in 1985-86. The Bulls (10.80) and Jazz (8.79) came close in 1996-97 as well. Keep Reading…
After allowing 122 points to the New York Knicks (albeit in overtime), the Thunder turned around and let the Minnesota Timberwolves carve the Thunder’s defense to the tune of 123 points. While the defense was better against the Rockets, and almost good against the Wizards, it’s hard to ignore the ongoing trend of poor defensive effort.
Last week I asked “what” was to blame for the bad defense. This week I ask, “who” is to blame.
When it comes to bad defense, Enes Kanter gets the brunt of criticism for his awful defense. And yes, if you watch Enes Kanter play defense, you’ll see a guy who’s obviously trying, but just can’t seem to find himself in the right positions and can’t seem to defend shots at the rim without fouling. But is it all his fault? Keep Reading…