And so it is finished: games one through 82. We'll continue to take the temperature of the team as well as the rest of the Western Conference foes in the upcoming days. For now, hopefully we can enjoy (at least for a couple days) a very successful season.
I agree with Mayberry that it's never a good idea to lose a game to try to chose your opponent, but there isn't any evidence that this is what happened last night. Granted, Byron Mullens got some first half action, but the Thunder turned things around quickly in the second and could have won easily if winning had actually mattered. Here is the thing though - it didn't. By the end of the 3rd quarter, it was clear that the Mavericks were going to win against the Hornets, rendering an OKC victory moot. There was no downside to losing (save for disappointing the fans), but some decent upside in getting bench players some end-of-a-close-game action.
Of the few highlights in this game, Young was pretty excited to see Nate Robinson take on Earl Boykins.
Here is a series of questions that the various ESPN guys address about the upcoming playoffs. I get the fact that the 4-5 seed series is always the most ripe for upsets, and Denver is certainly a dangerous team, but I still don't quite understand the how dismissively glib some talking heads are about the Thunder's chances. It is as if the past two weeks didn't even happen.
What I love about this year's playoffs is that there are no sure things. Every team has weaknesses. Every team has questions. The games are the only way to find the answers.
Nuggets Coach George Karl has two outstanding if undersized point guards, and he's got to try and figure out how to make them work against the Thunder. They are the key to Denver's chances.
More links after the jump.
And the Jahadi White award goes to...Serge Ibaka. Don't feel bad for him though, passing isn't the big man's job.
Did you know that "on the streets," Serge Ibaka is known as "Sir Chewbacca?" Why am I always the last to find out about these important details?
I have always enjoyed Aldridge, but his hyperbole is a bit surprising. Again, it is as if everyone is glibly ignoring what the Thunder have done in the past two weeks, especially on the defensive end. They do know that the Thunder held the Nuggets to 13 and 18 below their season averages in those two games, right?
Blake Griffin ended his rookie of the year campaign with a triple double. Watching talent like this develop only makes the impending lockout all the more haunting.
The Grizzlies' Tony Allen finds his way into the Wall Street Journal, of all places. I remember watching him play in Boston and feeling incredibly frustrated as this guy would make amazing defensive plays only to run down the court and blow the lay-ups. Knowing that, it has been such a pleasure to watch him blossom as a defensive lynch pin for the Grizzlies, even when it comes at the expense of OKC. He convinced me to be a fan just by my watching how hard he plays.