As we slog away through the remainder of the Eastern Conference semi's (would be great if you could occasionally crack 90, guys), it is time to turn full attention to the tidal wave that is the San Antonio Spurs. They have been playing the best basketball out of anyone since the All-Star break, and the Thunder have a monumental task of finding a way to slow them down.
Kevin Durant has been fielding a ton of Spurs-related questions, and it's starting to bother him. This raises an interesting notion - what happens to KD when he gets angry? Will his game elevate, a la Michael Jordan? Or will his emotions get the best of him and force him into bad outings?
This is a great post on the career arc of Tony Parker, and I think we should appreciate it because Russell Westbrook could follow a similar trajectory.
The HH team breaks down the rosters of both the Spurs and Thunder. The key I think is in the comparative match-ups, and how the Spurs want to challenge OKC with their 7th and 8th guys as well as their 1st and 2nd guys.
Greg Poppovich learned some things from Mike D'Antoni when the two squared off a few years back. D'Antoni's Suns played the "7 seconds or less" offensive ball, that focused on early engagement. The Spurs now do the same, and as a result they have the best offense in the NBA. The reason for it, and one of the things for which I've clamored for the Thunder to use, is that by getting into the offensive set in say, 4 seconds instead of 8, is that it opens up additional options because you have more time to run through offensive set variations.
Perrin writes a great post on much of what is wrong with All-Defensive team voting. While the league got it right in awarding the defense of Serge Ibaka, Perrin writes:
The Athlete trap. Looking further down the list of "also receiving votes" we come across Russell Westbrook of the Thunder, a monster athlete and daring defender who gets in passing lanes and can create exciting plays off his defense. But how can anyone who has watched the Thunder vote for Westbrook ahead of Thabo Sefolosha for the All-Defensive team? Westbrook somehow accumulated nine points in the voting, while Sefolosha managed just five, yet it is Sefolosha who defends the opposition's best perimeter player game in and game out.
Perhaps the best and worst thing to happen to the NBA was to have to witness the meteor that was Michael Jordan's career. Each time Kobe Bryant comes up short in the playoffs (and there have been quite a few) we should be reminded as to how far out of the stratosphere MJ really was.
Kevin Durant is the best in the NBA at one particular shot. Can you guess which one?
The thought of Dwight Howard kicking out Stan Van Gundy, only to have him replaced by disciplinarian Scott Skiles, is magnificent.
No team does failure with quite the flair and the anguish of the Los Angeles Lakers. Their torment seems deeper, their freakouts freakier, the recriminations more explosive. When they lose, they lose spectacularly.
Worth a click just for the image in the headline. "Wyatt, I am rolling."
The mysterious superfan Jimmy Goldstein is writing a diary at GQ, and every chapter of his story is well worth your time. For some reason Jimmy's look reminds me of a character out of a Steven King novel.
Newer fans to the game may not know much about Latrell Spwewell, and that is a shame. He was one of the more talented yet decisive players of the past 20 years, a counterpoint to the more marketable Allen Iverson. Also, he named his personal yacht "Milwaukee's Best," which is all kinds of epic, not the least of which is the fact that it immediately made you shout, "Spree's got a yacht?!?"