The Thunder completed a two year journey last night, finishing off the Lakers in five games. The game was a taut affair, just the previous three. However, the Thunder proved their mettle when the moments mattered most. Down the stretch, the Thunder got better as the Lakers got worse, and now OKC moves on while LA ponders an uncertain future.
Mayberry reminds us that it was the work of Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins on the offensive boards early in the game that helped wear down the Lakers' big men.
Young notes that the biggest sequence in the game occurred when Scott Brooks decided to leave Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant in the game, but Mike Brown chose to keep Kobe Bryant on the bench. During that stretch, the Thunder essentially finished off the Lakers for good.
Adande writes that while the outcome was never really in doubt, we were none the less treated to a competitive series that revealed all of the ways the Thunder have surpassed the Lakers.
Westbrook has taken a tremendous leap forward, but it begs the question of who has the advantage in the next round at the point position. Westbrook has yet to face the challenge of a PG as quick as he is.
I like this post about how Rusell Westbrook fits into the OKC concept, but this idea still makes me cringe because it's the media narrative, not an actual account of what happened:
During last year’s playoffs, he threatened to derail the entire team’s working order.
The U.S. Olympic team is coming together, so Pina asks, would you rather have James Harden or Dwyane Wade at the shooting guard position? For me, I think it comes down to how international ball is played. Perimeter shooting is more highly valuable than ability to crash into the lane and draw fouls.
Next year's Halloween is going to be dominated with James Harden beards and Russell Westbrook shirts.
Levy follows up his previous geometric post with a second one that looks at the entire league. He has a great comment on how the Thunder are diametrically opposed to the Spurs' brand of offense:
The Thunder are a team that found an offensive recipe completely different from the Spurs. They don't rely on an efficient balance, but instead on individual excellence.
The Lakers are at an odd place in their history. On the one hand, they have a young big man who could either be a cornerstone or a killer, and on the other they have an aging semi-elite player who is past the point where he can win games by himself. And then there's Pau.
If you need further proof that the MVP crown is sitting atop the correct head, just check out Wade's analysis here.
David Stern just reorganized the NBA's competitive committee. His move however seems like he hand-picked representatives who would back his personal positions on changes for the game.