Do you think Scott Brooks took it easy on the Thunder crew in yesterday's practice? Hopefully they all found a nice quiet hyperbaric chamber to log a few zzzz's. Me though, I cannot wait to see what happens next. I don't even care if Game Five is an 85-82 offensively challenged brick-fest. I just want to watch these two teams write the next chapter.
Behold, an actually sensible story is presented here about Westbrook's play in the series. Tramel gets it right - Russell Westbrook is the match-up problem for which Memphis has no easy answer. Because of this, OKC must exploit that match-up until Memphis figures out a way to stop it. That's the way the playoffs work.
Young recounts his most memorable moments from Monday night. I personally loved numbers 1 and 6 because they came at such critical junctures.
I concur with everything Mayberry writes here about James Harden, but in a way, even his story is incomplete in the same way that descriptions of Harden's game are incomplete. Harden is just one of those guys who, when he is on the court, good things tend to happen. On top of that, he is another huge match-up problem for the Grizzlies to which they have not yet presented a realistic answer.
Just like the Thunder fans waited for the team charter plane to land so they could welcome the players back after the exhilarating Game Four, so too the Grizzlies fans celebrated what they had just seen. These selfless acts more than anything validate what an amazing game it was.
Reasonable minds are beginning to uncover the Westbrook dynamic. On a team where there is typically no obvious plan B for offensive sets, Westbrook often has to make the decision of when to break off the play and try to create.
More links after the jump.
Abbott chimes in as well on the subject. He offers this quote from David Thorpe:
"The good news is that experience is a good teacher. If Russell Westbrook watches the tape of the last 20 minutes of Game 4, he'll be able to make the corrections. You can see it on the video: Sometimes the moment seized him a little bit, instead of him seizing the moment."
Mayberry tries to explain what happened regarding the late-game O.J. Mayo save where he threw the ball off of Harden's head, which allowed the Grizzlies to keep the ball. I don't find Mayberry's answer satisfactory, but I would guess that neither does he. I understand that certain things are not reviewable, but in this case, either way it would have to go to the Thunder. If they cannot review the play, then the call on the court stands (Thunder ball). If it is reviewable, then they have to call it out off of Mayo, because he was clearly standing on the sideline before he jumped and grabbed the ball. if In any event, he said he's going to request clarification from the league, so hopefully we'll get a better answer.
If I didn't actually see the game, I probably wouldn't believe this list.
This post poses the insightful question of an unexpected reality. Why is it that guys like Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol are still playing while Dwight Howard is sitting at home? GM's are still missing something.
The Thunder scored 133 points off of 16 assists. As they say, a game for the ages.
The best and worst thing about basketball is how everything, from the play, the interaction, and the emotion, is in plain view for all to see. So it is natural that everyone wants to play armchair psychologist in assessing Westbrook and Durant. I do think it is silly though to believe that this is some sort of power struggle for the spotlight. Rather, it is a function of two very young players who desperately want to win, but do not always know how to do it.
Bethlehem Shoals offers his insight into what he thinks is a growing incompatibility between Westbrook and the entire concept of the Thunder franchise. I usually find Shoals to be on the mark with the depth of his understanding, but I watched all four hours of that game, and what I saw was the star player (Durant) completely frustrated and unable to get his own game working, and another guy (Westbrook) feeling like if the #1 option can't get open, the only shot they had of winning was for him to get it done.
We've written about this topic before, but here is another perspective on the precedents offered for how Durant and Westbrook's careers might unfold.
Not Thunder-specific, but in this sequence Pruiti breaks down how the Celtics failed in their final regulation sequence, which could have ended the game. You will notice that Doc Rivers' play call is several layers more dynamic than what the Thunder usually run in these situations. Never the less, each play like this, whether run by 22 year olds or 10 year veterans, is dependent on effective execution and communication, and it is never easy to do.