The Thunder continue to wait in the wings for two things - a healthy Kendrick Perkins, and the identity of their 2nd round match-up. The Nuggets showed us something last night, winning on the road against the Lakers to extend the series. George Karl is not exactly known for rising to the moment in close-out games, so this was quite the performance. In any event, if it is the Lakers that move on, we're definitely going to see Metta World Peace in Game 1.
Players and coaches remain positive, but so far there is little indication as to how Perkins is doing.
No change on the Kendrick Perkins front. I personally think they're staying tight-lipped on this one because they don't think Perkins is going to be ready by Game 1, but they want to maintain solidarity so as not to give their opponent any foothold. How about this for a conundrum - Perkins is most valuable against the Lakers because of his defense against Andrew Bynum, but if LA wins too quickly it limits his recovery time. Conversely, if the Nuggets win they'll be a much more difficult match-up, but it also minimizes the need for Perkins to be healthy since he wouldn't play much against Denver anyway.
I think the Nuggets have exposed two things in their series against the Lakers - 1) LA has not been able to defend quick guards since, well, forever, and 2) Andrew Bynum is a bully, and when you push back against a bully, they shrink.
The Nuggets faithful are very optimistic, and they should be. They've legitimately outplayed the Lakers in the past 3 games, and if not for a big LA comeback in Game 5, they could easily have had the series lead. Now they head home to Denver and they're going to put their resolve to the test.
The Lakers have a problem on their hands - their most important player seems to check out mentally at the most inopportune times.
Ever since we had to watch the Pacers rout the Thunder a month ago, we've known they're a team to keep an eye on. They'll likely be facing the Heat in Round 2, and I have to say, I think they have a chance. If they can play to their strengths on the interior and limit the Heat's fast break opportunities, they are well-fit to attack Miami's one weakness (interior defense).
When you think of Shakespeare, who do you think of? The Reign Man, that's who.
JaVale McGee just played one of his best and most important games of his career and was rewarded with a game ball and a conversation with the equally "out there" Craig Sager. Naturally he then did this.
Addendum - McGee is awesome.
Shocker - people like to watch entertaining basketball.