You would think it would be kind of boring to write and cover a team that is as good as the Oklahoma City Thunder,but really it isn't. As I have mentioned before, I have lived my entire life in Kansas City, MO and winning is not something that happens with the professional teams. The most successful professional sports team in the city our soccer team, Sporting Kansas City. So...yeah. Talking about a really really good team will not get old for a while. There are not too many surprises in this week's edition of Beyond The Arc but there are some interesting reasons behind the selections.
The Buffy Summers Award (Team MVP for the week)
The man just won back to back Western Conference Player of the Week awards. He spent last Friday dropping a career high 52 points and nine rebounds on the Dallas Mavericks. My favorite part of that Dallas game was KD went 21-21 from the free throw line. He followed up that performance with 37-9-8 in a losing effort vs the Denver Nuggets and made his first 18 consecutive free throws in that game. He ended the game going 20-21 from the line. Over a four game stretch Durant made 48-50 free throws for a cool 98% from the line. Yeah...dude is sick and is the front runner to win NBA MVP.
Durant's week looked like it was going to have a rough ending when he struggled in the first half vs. the L.A. Clippers on Tuesday evening. But in true KD fashion, he was able to impact the game in ways other than scoring and caught fire in the second half to help the Thunder win comfortably over the Clips in a preview of the Western Conference Finals.
The Tom Haverford Award (Best Supporting Player)
This is the K-Mart the Thunder were hoping to get when they traded away James Harden in October. Martin is never going to take over a game and be the constant play making threat that Harden was for this team but he can still a similar impact with his ability to score from the three point line. That was seen earlier on in the game vs. the Clippers when Martin hit his first 4 shots, including a couple threes.
With him making shots from deep it will continue to free up space for Serge Ibaka to maneuver within the lane. It also benefits active hustle players like Nick Collinson. The good thing for Martin is that he doesn't need to be what Harden was to the Thunder last season. The progression of Reggie Jackson combined with Martin's skill set is proving to be a decent replacement for The Beard.
Walter White Empire Scale: 8 (last week- 8)
I really wanted to go lower than that for the Thunder this week but the win vs. the Clippers solidified them with an 8. The only loss this week occurred on the road vs. a Nuggets team that the Thunder had just beaten pretty easily four days earlier. Thunder have won three straight road games this week with the topper being a win over the second best team in the conference.
My reasons I wanted to go lower on my score go back to the Friday evening game vs. the Mavericks. A game the Thunder won in overtime that had no reason being in overtime. With six seconds left and a three point lead the Thunder allowed the Mavs to inbound the ball across the court to Shawn Marion who then passed it to O.J. Mayo who nailed a three to tie the game. Before the play I tweeted something to the effect of "foul foul foul foul foul foul foul." I figured it was a given that Scott Brooks was going to have tell his players to foul in that situation. I mean that is the right move there. Six seconds or under and up three you should foul. That is a "duh-doy" thing for me.
Well the Thunder did not foul and the game was sent into overtime. THEN in overtime the Thunder find themselves in a similar position to the one at the end of regulation. This time there was even less time left in the game. This time there was only 3 seconds left and the Thunder once again were up three and one again did not foul. The inbound pass went to Elton Brand who held the ball for two seconds before passing it to Vince Carter who threw a desperate three that wasn't really that close to going in. But it still could have gone in and there was no reason for it to ever come to that. I know that is nitpicking about something that happened in a win but if the Thunder are going to take the next step and win a title then things like this can't happen. Like I said earlier I know it is being very critical but I have seen this end of game situation many times and what really bites coaches is a failure to understand and practice the situation. I look forward to seeing if this end of game situation comes up again and to see if Scott Brooks handles it any differently.
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