The Thunder are coming off a bad loss, the Kings are coming off a good win. The Kings will be looking for some payback after coming up just short over the weekend. Will the Thunder find some renewed energy before the long All-Star break?
Mayberry assesses the latest stretch for the Thunder, which has the unfortunate complexion of much of this season - it's a good win total, but with a lingering feeling that things could have been a little bit better. It should be an encouragement that the problems plaguing them are correctable. Namely, Russell Westbrook has to slow down a bit and curb his turnovers, and the team has to be more disciplined in the half-court set.
It looks like Westbrook will be doing a little bit of journaling to chronicle his first appearance in the All-Star Game this coming weekend. I think he has the right attitude - for point guards, they need to go in with the attitude of setting up all the high flyers in order to give fans what they want.
The title is probably a misnomer; in reality, the article by Susan Bible is a rhetorical question as to, not where it isn't, but why it isn't. As she points out, the Thunder's defense improves dramatically as a game progresses, so it isn't like the Thunder are searching for the Lost City of Gold or something. It is more a question of what the difference is in the team's approach in the first quarter vs. the fourth.
Mahoney writes a great column on the nature of Westbrook. In short, he says that Westbrook is only at his most effective when he is playing on the edge. He is more instinctual than cerebral at this point in his career. It offers an exciting dilemma for the coaching staff - how do you re-imagine an offense to maximize Westbrook's game?
Westbrook is at his best not when he is calmly calculating or orchestrating the offense, but when he fully gives in to the helter-skelter style that has come to define him.
More links after the jump.
Royce Young addresses the question that, if it had an answer, might enable us all to sleep better at night. Jeff Green is not a rebounding forward. We know that. The challenge though is, can he ever be better than he is now? To me, it's the biggest factor in my belief that he is better suited to come off the bench.
The surface fallout from the dust-up between DeMarcus Cousins and Donte Greene, which happened in the aftermath of the Thunder's win against the Kings on Saturday night, appears to be a fine only. This means that Cousins should be suiting up tonight. What remains to be seen is how his presence impacts the overall team chemistry. I would never promote dirty play, but this is a situation the Thunder could exploit. If they could play some overaggressive defense on Cousins to deny him the ball, it is not unthinkable that he could read it again as his teammates failing to get him the ball and he'd lose his composure again.
Dwyer offers a deeper look at what ails the Kings. He points out that what the team has is a combustible situation of an undisciplined team leader (Tyreke Evans), and emotional head-case (Cousins), and a coach (Paul Westphal) who has a long-standing reputation as a push-over. It kind of reminds me of the early Gilbert Arenas years in Washington, where a clearly talented team just could not get over the hump because of the personalities involved.
I'd tend to agree with this statement. Serge Ibaka's progress is racing along. All he needs is more minutes and more experience.