One of the great things about the NBA playoffs is that you can have a game that is proclaimed, "this is the most important game of our season." Then, a week later, you can say the exact same thing, and still be exactly right. Each game going forward is "the most important game of the season." In fact, if a team does not approach the playoffs this way, it has no chance of winning it all.
Let us look forward, not backward.
One trait about the playoffs is that it makes everyone, from the coaches on down, surly. I think this is so because it exposes every weakness that a person wants to hide from the rest of the world, and in an 82 game season, is not that hard to do. But when the flaws come to light, some players hide, and other players get angry. Anger is better.
Young examines the start contrast in the +/- between when Perkins is in the game vs when he is on the bench. While that is the main focus, I think this part could be as relevant:
"Westbrook often talks about how he likes to use the first quarter to really get his teammates involved and distribute. He wants to set up early and then score later. But that doesn't at all fit with the structure Brooks just laid out. The way Brooks has it, Westbrook needs to be in attack mode from the outset, taking shots alongside KD. That conflicts with Westbrook's mindset, or at least the one he says he has."
Kendrick Perkins has had a tough go against the Mavericks' Tyson Chandler. It is so because Chandler is not an offensive option, so Perkins never has an opportunity to simply square up against him and fight on the block. Rather, Perkins has to run all over the place to keep Chandler from jumping to the rim for alley-oops and put-backs. Mayberry thinks it is time to change things up.
This feature by our SB Nation brethren is quickly becoming one of my favorite reads because while it is enjoyable from an entertainment standpoint, it also does something great that many reporters ignore - the post uses the quotes from the people involved to tell the story.
Hollinger examines what happened against the Thunder and points to the shooting (obvious) and the presence of Perkins (surprising). Scott Brooks is not going to shuffle his starting line-up, so that point is moot. However, this argument goes back to what I wrote the other day - in Game Two, why was Russell Westbrook the only guy singled out for not playing the entire 4th? Perkins was sitting there right next to him the whole time.
How about a little good news. The Mavericks, who at one point led 51-29 in Game Three, saw their lead dwindle all the way down to four with 17 seconds to go. If a few of those 3-point bombs had actually found the bottom of the net in the 4th, do you think we'd still be talking about Durant, Westbrook, or Perkins?
More links after the jump.
You probably remember the Tyson Chandler elbow to James Harden's dome in Game Three, as well as Harden's subsequent flop. The NBA took a look at the play and rescinded the tech, which I think is the right call. There wasn't anything malicious about the elbow, flop or not, and I'd hate to see a player be in danger of getting a suspension because of such a play. Which brings us back to that lingering problem - the refs are doing a horrible job calling techs.
There is a reason why championships only go to veteran teams - it is because of the playoff grind. A heightened level of concentration for two months after an 82 game regular season takes practice.
I would imagine that this emotion the Thunder are experiencing - anger - is a new one, at least as it pertains to their basketball approach. Let's hope it has a galvanizing rather than dividing effect.
I think this writer gets it right in describing Westbrook. He's gotta run supercharged and hungry or not at all.
The writer here offers his opinion on the head-scratcher he saw in Brooks staying with Westbrook even while the Thunder struggled in Game Three.
Peter Vescey does a good job getting the voices of other NBA coaches on the record to proclaim their impression of Brooks' coaching job in Game Two. Naturally of course, the discussion begins and ends with Westbrook, ignoring the other three starters who were also on the sideline.
A look at the the over-analyzed dynamic between Westbrook and Durant, which includes one quote from an unnamed Thunder player sourced to a writer's post who never actually makes the assertion in the linked post.
Derrick Rose has gotten caught up in a bit of confusion as to whether he said he thinks the NBA has a PED problem. While I don't think that the NBA does, due to more rigid drug testing than the other pro sports, it would be naive to think that it doesn't have some place in the game. Technology is always, always ahead of testing procedures.
And I would imagine it is because all of the NBA players and fans will have very little to do.