The playoffs are still humming along, and I hope you've been able to take stock of the entire league, not just the Thunder's experience. Last night, the Celtics once again outplayed and outcoached the Knicks, and the Mavericks continued their late season surge. Tonight...oh, tonight. Not only do we get to see how the Nuggets respond, but also we have two favorites (Spurs, Lakers) suddenly down 0-1 and looking to get back in their respective series.
I think Mayberry is right on the money here. You can never forget that Kevin Durant is for intents and purposes a seven footer with exceptional shooting range. If a defender isn't going to bother his shot, then that same defender isn't going to bother his passing either. The key will be how quickly Durant recognizes where and when the double-teams are coming and makes quick decisions.
Hollinger points out the defensive adjustment that the Nuggets applied to Durant late in the game. If you were wondering why it seemed as if Russell Westbrook kept calling his own number down the stretch, this is the reason why. It is less likely to work during the normal flow of the game, since the first three quarters are going to be moving at a faster pace and it is harder to stay with Durant. However, when the possessions get scarce and the Thunder need to execute, it's is a good technique. It is also why it will be incumbent on the Thunder role players to do a better job tonight (i.e. James Harden).
the Thunder role players, specifically James Harden and Serge Ibaka, came up small on the offensive end. With more aggressive double-teams likely coming at Durant in Game 2, these two men have to be ready and able to hit those open shots that the double-team creates.
Nene, if you weren't aware, is called "The Beast." The Thunder are going to need to do a better job at defending Nene, but I think the strategy is more tactical than player-focused. It was the high screens he was running late in the game that killed the Thunder's defense, not merely some force of brute strength.
More links after the jump.
Take a perusal at Hoopsworld's early assessment of the first week of this year's playoffs.
The Denver natives are getting restless, so hopefully Thunder fans can counter their enthusiasm for the Nuggets. They also offer a game preview, so be sure to read until the end.
Here is a local story that takes a look at how the team has ingrained itself with the community. It also features some good discussion with Daily Thunder's Royce Young, who shares some interesting stories about the team's cohesiveness.
The flip side to this argument is of course that OKC did a great job defending the Nuggets' final three offensive sequences.
In case you missed the story earlier this week, Orlando center Dwight Howard won his third consecutive Defensive Player of the Year award.
I think this approach to the goal-tending non-call is a little bit more measured, but it also seems to ignore the fact that the refereeing regression has been going on for a long time. Perhaps the game moves at too fast a clip now, but this degradation is the long-standing issue that the league doesn't want to deal with.