It is a testament to the greatness of Chris Paul and the growth of the young Clippers team that tonight's game has real meaning. LA grabbed a win in OKC last week, and tonight is the last chance for the Thunder to take back some momentum on the Clippers' home court. There are not too many 'big' games left at this point, but this is one of them.
Taken from Saturday night's game, I really liked this point Mayberry made about Kendrick Perkins.
To those still wondering why the Thunder is so high on center Kendrick Perkins: After the game, Perkins spent 10 minutes speaking one-on-one with forward Serge Ibaka. The exact conversation was unknown, other than Perkins repeatedly asked Ibaka if he understood where he was coming from, to which Ibaka repeatedly nodded. Perk appeared to be explaining to the 22-year-old Ibaka why things happened the way they happened in Saturday’s game. Perhaps Ibaka was troubled by how he was used in the rotation. He played 21½ minutes and finished with eight points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots. At times, the Wolves were killing the Thunder with the pick-and-roll, which they probably ran 70-plus times. In the end, Perk again made sure Ibaka was OK and also asked Thabo Sefolosha to double-check on Ibaka. This is an example of what makes Perk valuable. Perk seems to care as much about his teammates –perhaps more — than he cares about himself.
Just one nit to pick with Stein's analysis - yes, the Thunder have a tendency to lose their focus in the rebounding department, but that isn't why they lost against the Mavericks in the playoffs. Don't believe me? Check out the rebounding stats. The only game where Dallas was better was in Game 2, a game with the Thunder actually won. Instead, I would contend that OKC's two main weaknesses are: 1) they cheat too much on their perimeter defense; and 2) they don't take smart shots late in games.
For the Thunder, the answer is the Grizzlies. I suppose you could pencil them in against just about any team in the West. They are a team that is built for a seven game grind house series.
Way back when, CelticsBlog compiled previews for every team. Check them out and laugh (or cry).
You may not remember it, but there was a time in the NBA that 90% of what gets called for a charge these days used to be called a blocking foul. The easiest way to eliminate the flopping is to not call anything. If something doesn't work for a player, they stop doing it.
David Stern gives his best Bud Selig impersonation.
I smirk at seeing the Hornets on this list.
Don't Worry Thunder fans, Kobe will be back soon enough.
Another tale of a player from yester-year. Great name.
Check out a thumbnail image below the jump.
(click image to enlarge)