John Hollinger Chat: Where Do the Thunder Stand?

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ESPN NBA analyst John Hollinger answered a multitude of questions today, several of which involved the OKC Thunder. I've excerpted his Thunder-specific answers below.

John Hollinger Chat | ESPN

Question: Thunderup! Loved your article on the Thunder! Do you think they can beat the Spurs and Lakers in a row?

Hollinger: It's highly unlikely -- very rare for a team to win consecutive series without home-court advantage, although the Celtics did it a year ago. I'd be rooting for Memphis and New Orleans to make your path as easy as possible.

***

Question: Are the Grizz a bad match-up for the Thunder? Battier on Durant, Allen on Westbrook. Two bigs down low.

Hollinger: They were in the regular season, winning three of the four meetings, but that was because Zach Randolph absolutely abused Jeff Green. The Perk-Ibaka combo makes it a fair fight up front, although as you point out the Griz also have two good stoppers to put on the Okies' top scorers.

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Question: Do the Nuggets have what it takes to even the series with the Thunder, or is this series over?

Hollinger: Both. I can't imagine Denver winning the series, but winning these two games? I could see that. Denver is a notoriously difficult road environment, plus the Nuggets will have Afflalo for Game 3 and should be able to both match up and space the floor better.

***

Question: Seemed like OKC was going with a hack-a-nene defense on the interior, is this to just frustrate him, because he shoots FT's pretty decently?

Hollinger: It was more to prevent dunks when he's flying down main street on the pick and roll -- Thunder still need to defend him better on the dive. Nene, by the way, is not good from the line -- 61.5% this season.

***

Question: Think it'll be a Bulls/Heat East for a while and a Thunder/Memphis West?

Hollinger: I'm with you on three of the four. Let's hold off before we annoint the Griz as the next Great Power. But things look very promising.

***

Question: So you think the Thunder would beat the Lakers if they get another shot this year?

Hollinger: I'd be very interested to see what took place, let's put it that way. Thunder blew me away with their quality last night; in retrospect, even in Game 1 Denver's shot-making was pretty spectacular to keep them in the game.

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