Friday night's game was a litmus test in a sense; does it mean that the Thunder can take care of business without playing top notch basketball? Or does it mean the Thunder are not as good as advertised, when they struggle against lesser teams? Keep in mind that the Nuggets, hot on the trail of the Thunder, just crushed the Pistons by 30. The Cavaliers game will offer a similar assessment.
Here are a few lingering notes from Friday's game, offered by Mayberry. Of particular note was the all-around offensive game Kevin Durant turned in. He wasn't burning up the nets (especially early) but contributed in many more valuable ways when his shot wasn't falling.
You have to admire any handbook that basically says, "stop blowing your cash on jewelry." I think it's a good move by the NBAPA though. You can't force a player to make good decisions, but you can alert them to the consequences of them.
Dwyer comments on the handbook as well, noting one thing in particular - it is not only the players who have a propensity to overspend when they shouldn't be. The difference though between owner and player is that the owner tends to have a better appreciation for real estate property, which allows them to weather the storm better.
The writer contrasts the perception of the Miami Heat and the Thunder. For the Thunder faithful, the tag of "overrated" may sting a bit. While the assessment of the Thunder is tough but fair, I think it is interesting to compare the Thunder negatively to where the Heat find themselves. The Heat, like the Thunder, are dominated by two top dogs and a complimentary third wheel (Serge Ibaka, Chris Bosh). When the pre-season expectation was 70 wins, and the Heat now being on a pace for about 55 and looking nothing like a team that can go seven games against any of the NBA's elites, it seems a bit of a reach to me.
Tracy McGrady was extremely complimentary of Kevin Durant following the Thunder win. I think the comparison between the two is interesting, but only insomuch as because they both were/are able to score so easily at a young age. From a style standpoint though, I think Durant is much more similar to Carmelo Anthony or Glen Robinson than T-Mac.
Ziller reports an interesting tactic employed by NBA union head Billy Hunter. Instead of going through the players and their agents, the union is trying to influence opinion through the players' confidants. Reportedly, one agent was upset at this arrangement. I can only imagine.
Although the situations are only analogous in the sense that both the NFL and NBA are facing lockouts, there are still lessons to be learned as a 3rd party outsider. I would imagine that the image people associated with the NBA are watching closely to see how public perception changes as the labor issues grow more dire.
I don't think the Thunder will be in the running for any of these guys, but it will be interesting to see who might get offers thrown their way before the likely lockout commences.