The Thunder return to OKC tonight to do battle with the Pistons tonight. The Pistons are in complete disarray, having undergone a bit of a mutiny and coaching change in the past few weeks. It is important that with few exceptions, any NBA team can win on any given night (witness the Celtics' loss to the Clippers the other night) so let us hope that team and fan alike are dialed in.
At the end of the day, a coach has to make a decision - who does he trust more? Does he trust his best player, even if he is struggling? Or does he trust his own intuition, which may see a more favorable match-up? I know this - at some point I would kind of like to see the latter scenario play out, just to see how the team handles the game deciding shot being lifted from the fingertips of Russell Westbrook or James Harden.
Young breaks down the key play in the Thunder's comeback win against the 76ers. As he points out, often the difference between a great play call and a bad play call is whether the shot goes in. I would have to say though that this particular play call looked much better than some of the past ones, and I think it is because it minimized Durant's dribble-drive game and maximized what he does best- catch and shoot.
Coaches can always find comparative match-ups; in tonight's game, it might be Tracy McGrady guarding Westbrook. I'm sorry, I think I just gave away the secret.
Tonight's game will be guard-centric. Westbrook has been playing extremely well as of late, and if he can win the matchup tonight the Pistons should go quietly.
This story can be read in two ways. The first is what Wojnarowski probably intends - the insight into what makes Kobe Bryant great. Here is mine, because I witnessed how Kobe botched the Lakers' final sequence. Kobe took a terrible shot and missed badly. In the past, maybe his athleticism could have made it work out differently, but his post-game reflection might have as much to do about his coming to terms with his place in the game as any message he was trying to send.
More links after the jump.
Here are a few quotes from Scott Brooks on what runs through his mind during game-ending possessions:
"It’s always about getting a decent look, and very rarely are you going to get a decent look unless somebody just absolutely messes up on the defensive end."
From a pure theater standpoint, the media-exchange between Stan Van Gundy and David Stern is tasty. What doesn't get a lot of play though is a little bit of sympathy toward someone whose emotions were running high. I hate it when any sport league cracks down on personal speech immediately after a game, because often things get said without a filter. Certainly, some coaches and players do it for effect, but others? I think they're just experiencing emotions. A little bit of grace can go a long way.
If you're new to the NBA, you may not recognize the name Dennis Johnson. However, if you grew up in the early 80's and followed either the Supersonics or the Celtics, you knew about a guy whom Larry Bird referred to as the best teammate he ever had. He's part of the Thunder/Sonics canon, so it is well to remember him.
Articles like these continue to flourish, and what it signals to me is in fact that the Sonics fans actually have NOT come to terms with what happened. Honestly, they never will. Here is my proof - the Cleveland Browns. Do you think the fans in Cleveland have softened one iota toward Art Modell, even after receiving a new gift-wrapped franchise? I rest my case.