Tag Archives: Oklahoma City Thunder

Spurs dominate and win key game over Thunder


Can someone help me figure out this series? Should we just annul tomorrow’s game 6 and stay in San Antonio for a 7th game? So far, the western conference finals have flipped and flopped, the winner of each game is whoever is playing at home. And each time the final buzzer sounds, it’s a large margin of victory; last night was no different. The Spurs bounced back from their two game slide and handled the Thunder in impressive fashion, winning a key game 5 as the series goes back to Oklahoma City. As we’ve heard in the past countless times, the winner of game 5 when a series is tied at 2 games each, usually goes on to win the series. But what’s been hiding a bit better is that most of the time, this occurs in game 6. Can that happen for the Spurs? It might, but first let’s get to last night’s action and figure out how the Spurs were able to turn things around in such a big way. It had to have been more than just the home court advantage, right? Not as much as one would think. I think? It’s still hard for me figure out what’s going on. I feel like it’s mostly adjustments countering with more adjustments. It’s just surprising that OKC has made just as many smart moves as the Spurs have. Last night the Spurs made a brilliant move, going with a smaller line up to neutralize the Thunder’s high-tempo game and challenging them on offense and defense. San Antonio pretty much said “hey, we can play fast too!” and it worked beautifully. Tim Duncan had the big game (22 pts, 12 reb) but it was clear that last night was an old-school Spurs’ type of win, defined by team efforts and key contributions from unexpected sources. Last night it was the likes of Boris Diaw and Danny Green. Did I mention that the Spurs shot 50% (50!) from 3-point land? The young guns of OKC were a bit taken back by the Spurs’ tactics and after the second quarter, San Antonio had built enough momentum to turn the game into a rout. Yes, Oklahoma City has tons of trouble handling the Spurs shooting barrage on defense but their ineffective play on offense is what really hindered them. Ibaka (the Spurs killer) had a solid game on defense but wasn’t able to score like he had in the previous two games. The Thunder started off hot, thanks to their stars Durant and Westbook, but they weren’t able to keep pace, something that they’d controlled but was turned on them last night. Can the Thunder defend their home court and force a game 7? The history of this series says yes. But what this series has shown us is that when we think it’s going to zig, it zags instead. Momentum is all on the Spurs side and I have a feeling that it’s going to stay there. Then again, what neutral fans don’t want to see a game 7? We’ll have to wait and see.

Big game tonight in the eastern conference finals. Wasn’t able to discuss the game yesterday because of a family affair but i’m here to preview it. I’ll be watching this game pretty closely tonight. Partly because i’m running a 5k tomorrow morning and should stay in, but more so because i’m excited to see this game. How will the Heat, and more specifically LeBron, respond at home? King James suffered through Lane Stephenson’s antics and that, combined with foul trouble, kept the league’s best player to a modest performance in game 5. What do I expect? LeBron and Heat to unleash hell on the Pacers. The Pacers love to impose their will and play a style that frustrates the other team, but so far in these playoffs, it’s come back to bite them in the ass. Can Indiana handle the pressure and force the action home for a 7th and deciding game? I don’t see it. Despite limiting LeBron to the worst performance in a long time, Miami was in the game until the final minute. It’s not enough for Indiana to just win the game. They have to impress and show that they’re capable of beating Miami on the road in a big way for anyone to believe that they’re capable of winning not just the series, but the title as well. Heat rout and join some elite teams.

Thunder roll as they even up the Western Conference Finals

San Antonio Spurs v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Four

It’s incredible to watch how things have turned between the Thunder and Spurs. Just one week ago, I was pretty confident that San Antonio would cruise into the Finals and await whoever came out of the east. Now, it’s Miami how appears to be in cruise control and it’s the Spurs who appear to be knocked back, dumbfounded by what Oklahoma City has done the past two games. The Thunder turned last night’s game into a rout, holding their own at home to even up the series as it heads back to San Antonio. It’s surprising because the Spurs are the best in the league when it comes to adjustments. Did I expect Serg Ibaka’s return to matter THIS much to the Thunder’s success? Not at all. Ibaka is a great player and the best “third banana” in the league but he’s turned this series on it’s head in a matter of 72 hours. OKC’s athleticism sticks out like a sore thumb, a needle in the back of the Spurs that they simply can’t reach. Just look at the fast break points (21 to 0) advantage that the Thunder had last night. OKC turns on the jets and San Antonio can’t keep up, their starting line up much too aged for this young man’s style of game. Where does the physical intensity start and end? Russell Westbrook of course! Westbrook’s historic night (40 pts, 5 reb, 10 ast, 5 stl) led the way for the Thunder last night, dominating from start to finish and imposing his will. More than just their improved defense with Ibaka in the middle, the Thunder are forcing the Spurs to play their style of basketball at both ends of the court. Can the Spurs turn it around? Shades of 2012 can’t help but be discussed. But this is a different team for both sides. I expect San Antonio to respond well now that they’re going to be play at home but it’s clear that the momentum is 100% on the Thunder’s side. OKC thrives on momentum but part of that is because their home crowd is raucous, something that won’t be available in tomorrow night’s game. If I had to bet, i’d say that the Spurs rebound and at the very least, make the game come down to the final minute. I mean, it’s the Spurs…right? I’m not confident about picking them in tomorrow’s game but when they’re under the radar, is when they play best. It’s a three game series and there’s no need to stress how important tomorrow night’s game is for both teams. Should be a good one. Oh yeah, quick shout out to Corey Joseph.

Unfortunately, the eastern conference finals haven’t provided us with as much drama as our friends out west. The eastern conference has fizzled and turned in Miami’s favor more and more as the series has gone on. Can Indiana force another game or will the Heat close things out quickly tonight? All signs point to a quick and effective victory by LeBron and co (8:30 ET on ESPN) in Indiana tonight. The Heat have taken all of the Pacers trash talking and turned it on them, but doing so on the court instead of off. The momentum is heavily on Miami’s side but the Pacers will be playing in front of their home crowd. They owe it to their fans to give it 100% and send this series back to Miami. Will that happen? Probably not. Indiana has shown time and time again that they can’t be trusted this postseason. Sure, they’ve thrived on being the underdog but weren’t they in that position last game? Maybe they’ll prove everyone wrong tonight but the smart money is on Miami.

I’ve always been a fan of Ahmad Rashard’s interviews. Should be another great season.

2014 NBA Playoffs: Wrapping up the weekend's action

San Antonio Spurs v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Three

We’re about halfway through the conference finals and both series are starting to take shape. Sure, the action hasn’t been nearly as exciting as the first (especially) and second round, but that comes with the territory. The conference finals are more meticulous. With the stakes being higher, neither team wants to make that one mistake that could cost them the game and, consequently, the series. It’s interesting because at this point in the postseason, every team has played at least 12 games and fatigue will become more of a factor heading forward. Which team will dig deepest? Right now the favorites (Heat and Spurs) have 2-1 leads, but after three games, we might be in store for long series in each of the conferences. It’s a more surprising result out west but we’ll get to them soon enough.

Judging from last year’s series, one would expect plenty of fireworks between Indiana and Miami. Highlight plays, big runs and intense battle. But the eastern conference finals have been the more meticulous series of the playoffs that we’ve seen so far. It’s a bit surprising. I don’t want to go as far as to say that it’s been boring, but at times the action does slow to an almost laboring pace between the Heat and Pacers. There’s been some hot-shooting that keeps the action going and the scores from being in the low-80s every game but each game starts slow. Maybe that’s just the make up of this series. The Heat used a big 4th quarter to take down the Pacers in front of their home crowd, winning the second game in a row and taking a 2-1 series lead. It was only one week ago today that the Pacers had just won the opening game against Miami and people were wondering if this was the start of the end for the Heat. Since then, Miami has won back-to-back games in the series and is now in control. Impressive response by the Heat this past week. They’ve stolen the home court advantage and have improved in a just a few days. The Heat haven’t looked as impressive as the Spurs, but they’re still gaining form as the series goes one. Indiana, on the other hand, has dropped a bit more each game and needs to turn it around quickly. They had a good first half to start game 3 (up by 15 at one point) but as the game went on, Miami turned up the intensity and the Pacers couldn’t match it. That’s been a big difference and what’s hurt the Pacers even more than that is their lack of bench production. Indiana relies heavily on their starting five to carry them but sometimes, it’s a little too much. Can the Pacers even it up tonight? Indiana has a knack for playing their best basketball when their against the ropes or seen as the underdog. That holds true for tonight (830 ET ESPN) and I expect the most entertaining game of the series.

Out west, things have a taken a turn for the more interesting. I’ll be first to admit that I did not see this series lasting more than five games. That was most mostly due to the fact that the Spurs had looked so impressive in the first two games that, despite some distinct advantages, the Thunder were no match. I also assumed that we weren’t going to be seeing Serg Ibaka on the court for the rest of the series. Things changed over the weekend and all of a sudden, Ibaka might be available for Oklahoma City. Still skeptical, I thought “well…let’s see how he does” before making any rash decisions. Ibaka’s return sparked the Thunder at home, who looked like a new team against San Antonio last night as they bounced back to climb back into the western conference finals. Depending on which team you’re a fan of, that’s either really good or it’s concerning. I’m a fan of basketball, so the more competitive a series can be, the happier I am. Unless it’s the Mavs trying to close out a series, of course. Anyways, we now have an actual series in the west. Remember how the Spurs had done whatever they’ve wanted in the paint in the first two games? The Thunder sliced their paint scoring average by a third last night. Ibaka’s return (15 pts, 7 reb, 4 blk) not only affected the Thunder on defense but it gave OKC life on offense and hope that they can compete with big bad wolf from San Antonio. The Spurs still hold the advantage a 2-1 and they’re still likely to win the series but at the very least, the Thunder have caused some concern in the Spurs’ locker room. The biggest issue for San Antonio? The guard play by anyone not named Manu Ginobili. Previous Thunder killers Tony Parker and Danny Green only managed to combine for 17 points last night, something that can’t continue. A lot of that has to do with Ibaka’s presence in the paint, forcing the small Thunder guards to settle for jumpers. So, the Thunder are back and appear to be a full capacity. The Spurs got knocked back a bit and hope to respond well. Was last night’s game the turning point in the series? We’ll have to wait and see.

Spurs rout Thunder and take complete control of the series


Are we going to see some competition during the western conference finals? Through the first two games, the Thunder have managed about three quarters of competitive basketball against San Antonio, most of which didn’t occur last night. The Spurs dominated the Thunder in incredible fashion, taking a 2-0 series lead that appears to be the end of the series. I know, it’s very premature to make that kind of statement. Especially when one considers what happened between these two teams just two years ago. Here’s a refresher: Spurs were up 2-0, all things rolling but the Thunder turn things around in game 3, win four straight games to advance to the finals. Will that happen again? I can’t see it. Back in the 2012 western conference finals, the Thunder were very competitive in the first two games of the series. Right up until the 4th quarter of those games, they had a chance to win. It’s the complete opposite of what’s happening right now. San Antonio didn’t let the Thunder linger long, finishing the first half in an impressive fashion and riding that momentum into the 3rd quarter, turning the game into a lopsided affair. It’s basically what happened in the first game, only this time the Spurs dominated the entire second half and not just the 4th quarter. Tony Parker (22 pts, 5 ast, 2 stl) was the Spurs offensive wheel last night but Danny Green’s hot shooting (7 of 10 from 3-pts) was the biggest catalyst that put the Spurs up by such a large margin. Interesting fact: Green wasn’t able to make the Cavaliers roster just a few years ago and now, he’s an important piece of the best team in the league right now. That’s what happens when you join an organization like the Spurs. Top-notch ownership, front office, coaching and teammates. And last night, the Spurs were running on ALL cylinders. Incredible to watch. The Thunder were certainly watching, benching their starters once the game was out of reach. Once again, the Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook questions about chemistry start to pop up again. Listen, teammates are going to yell at each other, especially when they’re getting beat that badly. Oklahoma City needs to have the shortest memory possible heading forward. Only in reviewing last night’s game tape should they be reminded of what happened. Because if they don’t turn things about quickly, the Spurs might start taking out their brooms.

As much as I love the NBA playoffs, it’s nice to have a couple of days off from games to take a break and breathe a bit. On that note, the NBA does a lot to promote it’s global game and encourage children to participate in basketball. Just look at the Spurs. People love to gush about their team and half of them weren’t born in this country. So i’m happy to see Hakeem Olajuwon, a personal favorite of mine, as the NBA’s Ambassador to Africa.

Spurs’ strong 4th quarter pushes them past Thunder for early series lead

Oklahoma City Thunder v San Antonio Spurs - Game One

The consensus is this: when facing an elite team in the NBA, get ready for that team to find your biggest weakness, and get ready for them to take advantage of it. That had to have been in the minds of the Oklahoma City players last night. The Thunder knew that the Spurs are the best at doing just that and last night…well, one couldn’t find a better example. San Antonio controlled the paint and the 4th quarter against the Thunder last night, turning the game into a rout to take an early lead in the western conference finals. Was anyone THAT surprised that the Spurs were going to take advantage of the Ibaka injury like that? From the start of the game, it was evident that San Antonio was going to do pretty much what it wanted in the paint. How big of an advantage was it for the Spurs? 40 points in the paint in the first half and after the final buzzer went off, a 66 to 32 advantage over the Thunder. And it wasn’t just one single player doing the damage. Kawhi Leonard had his spectacular plays in the paint, while Tim Duncan (27 pts, 7 reb) did his methodical, time-reversing work in the paint. It’s still pretty incredible to watch Duncan, almost 40, continuing to show the young guys of the league how it’s done. Same goes for Manu Ginobli, who, teamed with Tony Parker, played about as well as back court this year. But all of this gushing over the Spurs doesn’t mean that it was easy for them for the entire game. The Thunder did a nice job responding to the Spurs. Anytime it seemed like San Antonio was going to turn the game into a rout, there was Durant and Westbrook, making a big shot or throwing down the slam in the paint to keep the Thunder hanging around. They even took the lead for a bit during the 3rd quarter. Oklahoma City does pose a match up problem for the Spurs but it’s going to take more a superhuman effort from their superstars to get wins in this series. Is that possible? Of course. But they need more support from their surrounding players. By the middle of the final quarter, it was evident that the Thunder had run out of gas and the Spurs were there to take full advantage. Still, I like the Spurs but I also like the Thunder to put up a nice fight.

Miami is ready to get even. Both in the series and in every aspect of tonight’s game (8:30 ET ESPN) against the Pacers. After the Pacers’ impressive victory in game 1, how will the Heat respond? I have a feeling that LeBron James and co. will respond well but don’t think for a minute that it’s going to be easy. Indiana showed poise and effort in front of their home crowd during the last game and I don’t expect it to go away. Just remember: this eastern conference finals series is what the Pacers were looking forward to all season. This is their time and their chance to put a rest to the Miami Heat dynasty in the conference. What more motivation than that for Indiana? And what more motivation does Miami need? Every NBA team that has ever won three titles in a row has faced their biggest obstacle in the third year. Miami is tired. Tired because they’ve played so many games these past few years and tired because people are starting to doubt them. Not wanting to face a deadly 0-2 hole, tonight is the Heat’s chance to make this a series. Will they prove that they’re still the favorite to win the conference and, as a result, the title? Or will we see Indiana build off their game 1 performance to take a commanding lead in the series? Miami usually responds well after losing the first game and I expect the trend to continue. My trust for Indiana is still low and it’s hard for me to pick them in this series. Either way, should be an excellent game.

One, quick, last look at the second round’s best plays

Pacers and Thunder join the conference finals parties after closing out their series


When did the NBA turn into the NFL? I only mean that in terms of this season and the fact that, much like the NFL, the NBA playoffs have taken a turn for some predictability. Before the season started, the Heat and Spurs were the clear favorites with the Thunder and Pacers closely behind them, all vying for title contention. And what do you know, that’s exactly where we are right now. After a chaotic first couple of rounds to get the playoffs going, order was restored as both the Thunder and Pacers join the Heat and Spurs to round out the four teams left in the NBA postseason. Indiana closed out the Wizards in a neat way, reverting back to their winning ways that we had expected from them. David West (29 pts, 6 reb, 4 ast) stood out on the individual stat sheets, but West’s performance wasn’t the most impressive aspect of Indian’s night. The Pacers’ ability to win big despite not having their best game (out-rebounded and inefficient from 3s) was what stood out for me. They didn’t need to be flashy or anything like that. Indiana just used their defense and experience to win the game. The Wizards rallied in the 4th quarter, leading by a point halfway through but the Pacers just settled down, didn’t panic, and took the lead back for good. What went wrong for Washington? I think most of the blame has to settle on their back court. John Wall and Bradley Beal have a strong future but last night their inexperience showed, never getting into rhythm and never being able to set their tone on offense. I like the Wizards’ future but they’re not quite ready to take down the big men from the conference. Now the Pacers have moved on to face their familiar foes. Can they do well against the Heat and put their underwhelming season behind them? We’ll just have to wait and see.

For a while during last night’s Clipper-Thunder game, it looked they were going to be settling things with a 7th game. Then things changed in the second half and the 4th quarter. Kevin Durant rallied the Thunder, looking every bit like the MVP down the stretch against the Clippers last night as the Thunder closed out the series and are back in the western conference finals. I was actually watching the game at a bar with brother and next to us were a couple of Clipper fans that were actually from Los Angeles, in town for a college graduation in their family. They, like most of the country, marveled at Durant’s performance (39 pts, 16 reb, 5 ast, 2 blk) down the stretch. Just as the Clippers were getting some sort of offensive rhythm, here comes #35 on the Thunder with a contested jumper or a quick-release 3 to put a dagger into the LA crowd. Shades of LeBron in 2012 or Dirk in 2011. When a player that great gets going, there’s nothing you can do but double-team him and hope that his next shot doesn’t go in. Unfortunately for the fans in LA, their attempts to slow down Durant and the rest of the Thunder team wasn’t enough to win them the game. Blake Griffin (lingering with foul trouble) and Chris Paul played well but the Clippers needed another member of their support staff to step it up just a little more. Don’t be down on yourselves people of LA. Your Clippers team is going to be back in contention next season for a spot in the conference championship and possible the finals. For Durant and co, it’s their third western conference finals in four seasons. They missed out last season but they’re back and, like the Pacers, they’re up against a familiar foe in the San Antonio Spurs. Can they stop the machine that is the Spurs?

I’ll preview the Spurs-Thunder with a bit more depth on Monday before they get going. But the Heat-Pacers starts on Sunday afternoon (3:30 ET on ABC) and i’m still confused about what will happen in this series. The Pacers have been hard to trust since the all-star break and Miami looked lethargic for stretches during their series against the Nets. If the Pacers can take down the beasts from the east, their bad season will be forgotten just like that. Will we see the same Paul George from last year’s eastern finals? Maybe. Despite all of the advantages that Indiana SHOULD have, I can’t trust them in any scenario. For that reason alone, I have a feeling that Miami wins the series and heads to finals for a fourth straight year. It’s the boring, but logical prediction: Miami over Indiana in 6.

Wizards win big to extended their series; Thunder outlast the Clippers to take series lead


We got a big night of basketball last night. The Clippers-Thunder game is taking all of the headlines right now and while I have plenty to say, let’s talk about the eastern conference game from last night. Washington dominated the Pacers during the second half of last night’s game and sent the series back to the nation’s capital for a 6th game. The Wizards were pretty impressive from start to finish last night. Their rebounding edge (62-23) was astonishing and their combo of Marcin Gortat and John Wall as well. Gortat and Wall led the way for Washington, combining for 58 pts, 21 reb and 7 ast in their blowout win over the Pacers. Can we see some consistency from either of these teams? As great as Washington was last night, they have failed to look just as impressive against the Pacers when they’re in front of their home crowd. The Wizards controlled nearly every factor of the game last night but can they do it more than one game in a row? Wall had some turnovers but his shooting display was impressive, scorching the Pacers during a big 3rd quarter for Washington. It was a huge surprise because, so far in this series, Indiana has controlled every single 3rd quarter. Last night it was the 3rd quarter where the Wizards put the game out of reach. What went wrong for the Pacers? Well, to start off, they can’t let another team have a near 3-to-1 rebounding edge over them. They also need a more balanced attack on offense. Aside from Paul George and David West, no other player had a double digit scoring night. Indiana has to revert back to their style of games 2-4 if they want finish the series. It’s very rare for a team to come back from a 3-1 deficit (8 out of 219) but Washington has all the tools to do so. And at the same time, Indiana has all the tools to close them out. Which team will execute?

Now to the bigger story of the night. Where do I even being to discuss the Clippers visiting the Thunder last night? The Thunder took a big lead over the Clippers in their series last night, outlasting LA in a game that ended in a whirlwind of questionable calls and bizarre execution. I tried as best as I could to describe the chaos that happened at the end of that game in once sentence. Being a neutral observer, it was hard for me to watch last night’s game. It’s impossible to argue that the referees didn’t have a big influence on last night’s game. But it’s also impossible to argue which team received most of the benefit. At first glance, one would obviously say the Clippers. The replay that appeared to favor LA, the apparent touch committed by Reggie Jackson. Yes, there was some big influence by the officials but did they tell Chris Paul to foul Russell Westbrook on that terrible 3-point attempt? Westbrook (38 points) makes the clutch free throws and the Thunder take the lead for good. Despite all the talk about the referees going on, why aren’t more people talking about the lack of execution down the stretch by either team? For two teams with championship aspirations, they played some really ugly basketball during the final minutes. It’s a shame really. These are two of the most entertaining teams in the league and unless we get a 7th game, the most important game of the series will remain known for bad officiating and poor play instead of must-watch basketball. Chances are that the Thunder will go on to win the series but they haven’t been impressive enough so I could (hope to) see a 7th and final game. Let’s just hope it’s better all around basketball this time around.

Not going to sugarcoat the games tonight. I expect both the Heat and Spurs to close things out tonight and prepare for the conference finals.

Pacers and Thunder bounce back to even up their respective series

NBA: Playoffs-Washington Wizards at Indiana Pacers

Last night’s games were more of what I was looking forward to in this round. Now we can rest assured that at least two of the series are extended to at least a fifth game, if not more than that. I can’t say the same for the two that we’re going to watch tonight. But we’ll get to those in due time. The Pacers, and more specifically Roy Hibbert, bounced back from their first game woes to take care of business against Washington at home and evened up the series at 1 game each. The Indiana center has been taking plenty of heat for the entire playoffs but last night, finally, he responded with a great game (28 pts, 9 reb) to lead the Pacers in their victory. Despite his great game, NBA fans are wondering if this is something that the Pacers will build on or if it was of a “flash in the pan” situation going forward. Here’s the thing: the Pacers got an big game from Hibbert but they only managed to win by four points. Let’s pump the brakes on this being some sort of resurgence from Indiana. Or maybe Andrew Bynum really does ruin teams. Either way, the Wizards shouldn’t dwell on this game too much. Washington made some key mistakes down the stretch, most by John Wall, and were still within one possession until the final 30 seconds or so. The Wizards have a couple of things to iron out but I still like them in the series and they will be getting a very warm welcome by their fans tomorrow night. As the series shifts to the nation’s capital, i’ll be interested in what kinds of adjustments both teams make. It’s one of the things that I love about the NBA having a best-of-7 format. How teams adjust and adapt become such a important part of their success.

Much like the Pacers, the Thunder were also in danger or dropping their first two games of the series to the Clippers. The stars on the Thunder led the way for OKC, putting up big numbers on the Clippers defense to even up the series at 1. It’s the kind of performance that you’d expect from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Maybe Durant accepting the MVP trophy in front of the Thunder crowd helped fuel the fire for his team. That, or the fact that they were facing a deadly 0-2 deficit. But i’m sure the Thunder were glad to use Durant’s individual success result in a big win for the team. Westbrook put up the triple-double (31 pts, 10, reb, 10 ast) and Durant nearly had one of this own (32 pts, 12 reb, 9 ast) to lead the way. Not only did they perform well, but they got some good help from their support staff. Players like Ibaka and Perkins were key if the 3rd quarter for the Thunder. It was the quarter that OKC took complete control of the game and put the Clippers away for good. LA didn’t do a good job defending the Thunder like they did in the first game. Where did the paint presence go? Where was Blake Griffin last night? Griffin had 15 points, but needed 13 shots to get them and never really got comfortable. Credit the Thunder defense for making it a hassle. Now the series shifts out to the west coast and i’m having a hard time figuring out who’s going to take it. My initial pick was the Clippers and while i’m still confident about taking them, I have a strong feeling that this series is going the distance.

We can all hope that tonight’s games result is some series being evened up but in all likelihood, it’s not going to happen. The Heat and Spurs looked so dominant in their first games that i’m just hoping the games are competitive so that we can see some drama in the 4th quarter and maybe beyond. Is Brooklyn or Portland more likely to steal a game on the road? I’d have to say Portland because I can see Aldridge and Lillard both having big games. If neither of these teams win tonight, the Heat and Spurs all but have their tickets punched to the conference finals.

Shout out to Spalding

Thunder and Mavs get big wins; key NBA games for tonight

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder

For the past three weeks or so, anytime two teams in the top 9 of the western conference square-off, it’s much watch television for all basketball fans. That’s just the kind of season we’re having in the west. I know the eastern conference looks like it will be bit more competitive (especially as of late) this postseason but the west will be a bloodbath every single round. I’m getting a little ahead of myself, as usual, but at least we got a little preview of what we could see in a couple of week during last night’s games. Both the Thunder and Mavericks got big wins over the Spurs and Clippers (respectively), two of the best teams in the conference as of late. What does that tell us? Well, for one, no team is invincible in the conference. At least for one night. I still wouldn’t bet against the Spurs but at least we can see that they won’t completely roll over every other team. Especially the Thunder, because after last night’s win over their I-35 rival, they have swept the season series 4-0. Are the Thunder just a match-up nightmare for San Antonio? A little bit but don’t forget that the Spurs were playing their 5th game in just over a week’s time. It was still an impressive by OKC, who used their superior length and speed to counter the Spurs’ ball-movement. Conference finals preview?

Once again, not getting ahead of myself. Especially if the Clippers or Mavs, who squared off last night, have anything to say about not being included in the conference finals discussion. Now, my Mavericks are a bit of a long-shot to make it that far into the playoffs but they would at the very least give any opponent in the west a well-fought series. But that’s the western conference in general and that’s why it’s so great. The Clippers have been playing excellent basketball for over a month now, led by Blake Griffin, who posted his first triple-double of the season. Dallas was able to survive Griffin’s performance but it wasn’t easy, as the Mavericks continue to fight with the Warriors, Grizzlies and Suns for those final three spots in the conference. The Mavs, with their barrage of shooters, have one of the best offenses in the league but it’s going to have to be their defense that makes sure they have a position in the postseason. Right now it’s spotty but if they can fix their late-game mistakes, Dallas can do some real damage. The Clippers on the other hand are pretty much locked into the #3 seed, barring anything crazy happening in the final stretch of the season. Right now they’re set to face the Warriors, and man oh man, would that be a juicy first-round match up. At lot left to happen before we get to that point so let’s see what games will affect both conferences as we begin the final week and a half of the season.

Lots and lots of games tonight. In fact, the only teams that aren’t in action tonight are the Spurs and Clippers. But don’t worry because we’re still going to get some great games tonight, some of which have big implications. As stated previously, any game involving two western conference playoffs contenders is a great watch. Especially 6 through 9 because at any time, those teams can switch in a variety of ways. The biggest games among the western teams tonight are the Thunder in Houston and the Suns in Portland, both games should be great. The east isn’t as intense but there’s still a lot to learn from various teams and some shuffling that will happen among the non-Pacer and non-Heat teams. The Raptors are fighting to stay in the 3rd position and what do you know, they’re going up against Indiana tonight. The Pacers need to get back into the form and getting a win over the team one spot beneath them is the right direction. You can also tune into Boston-Philly for tanking reasons. But let’s focus on the Wizards, in New York tonight to take on Moe’s Knicks, who are all of a sudden in the 8th spot in the eastern conference. Washington is trying to move up a spot in the standings while New York is trying to fight off the Hawks and Cavaliers for the final spot in the postseason. Should be a good game and a good Friday of basketball to get the weekend started.

NBA Wednesday: Kevin Durant’s incredible hot-streak; other lingering notes.


First of all, i’d like to apologize to the NBA. It’s mostly been football for me the past few weeks, the main attraction this time of year, but i’ve been watching the Association on a more casual level. There are various reasons for that (I won’t bore you) and while it’s mostly been Mavericks basketball, i’m still keeping tabs on what’s going on around the NBA circles. Until the Super Bowl is over, i’ll keep it casual with the NBA but since it’s the only pro-football game left for this season, my basketball coverage will continue to improve in the next couple of weeks. After all, what can happen during the NBA regular season that can eclipse the all-mighty NFL? Enter Kevin Durant. Durant’s current scoring streak includes 30 points or more in 8 straight games, with totals that include 46 (last night), 48 and 54 points. At first sight, I thought to myself “well, this is the most impressive scoring streak since Kobe’s stretch in the 06-07 season” and then I came across this stat sheet. My predictions were correct! Kobe was more of a volume shooter (scoring 398 in 10 games) and while Durant has “only” managed to score 383 points in 10 games, he’s doing it more efficiently than Kobe did. Think about this: in the month of January so far, #35 of the Thunder is averaging 37 points/game while shooting just over 52% from the field. If that’s not must-watch basketball, I don’t know what is. For those that are interested, Durant does play tonight as the Thunder are in San Antonio to take on the Spurs. The top two teams in the western conference going head-to-head that also includes the most impressive shooting stretch in the past 7 years? Yes, all basketball fans should be watching ESPN at 8pm ET tonight.

As impressive as Durant’s streak has been, it’s not everything that has been going on with the NBA right now. Can I just get one thing on record? Let’s all pump the brakes on statements that say Durant is now the favorite for MVP and that Indiana is now the favorite to win the title. I get where the debate is coming from. It’s a fun one to have right now because Durant has looked so impressive and because Indiana appears to be taking complete control of the top spot in the eastern conference. But as we’ve seen in the past, the MVP isn’t won over a month long stretch in January and NBA title isn’t won because you’re the top seed in the conference. I give plenty of props to Durant for making it an actual conversation now but my money is still on LeBron, he does more for the Heat than any player does for their team. I’m also impressed with Indiana’s 4 game lead over Miami for the top spot in the conference, making it very clear that they want home court advantage in the postseason. Right now, I think Indiana would be favored, mostly because Miami seems to be in a bit of a rut but once the weather gets warm again, Miami will be the favorite. By the way, check out the Pacers in Phoenix tonight; contrasting styles that should provide a great NBA product. I know this topic is a bit old now, but I’ll just ask the NBA a quick question: can we send Miami and Indiana to the western conference, Utah and Sacramento to the eastern conference and make the east the new D-League?

Here’s a highlight video of Durant’s 46 against the Blazers last night. It starts to get ridiculous around the 1:30 mark of the video. A sequel is possible tonight!

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