The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Houston Rockets in round 1 of the 2013 playoffs, 4-2. While this series may go down the memory hole, we should remember it for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is we finally got a close look at how valuable Russell Westbrook is to everything the Thunder are trying to accomplish. With Westbrook lost for the playoffs, it is difficult to say how much farther OKC can go. At least for this series, they kept their composure in the end.
Individual Game Grades
(all statistics are the series averages)
33.6 PPG, 7.8 REB, 6.0 AST, 1.2 ST, 1.0 BL, 3.0 TO
24.0 PPG, 6.8 REB, 7.0 AST, 3.0 ST, 4.0 TO
13.4 PPG, 3.2 REB, 2.6 AST, 0.4 ST, 0.6 BL, 2.0 TO
13.6 PPG, 8.6 REB, 1.2 AST, 3.2 BL, 0.6 TO
7.4 PPG, 6.0 REB, 3.0 AST, 1.4 ST, 0.8 BL, 0.8 TO
2.4 PPG, 4.0 REB, 0.6 AST, 1.2 ST, 0.4 BL, 2.2 TO
||There's a lot of Perk haters out there, and by the end of the series, I felt like I had joined the crowd. But I'm still adamant in saying that he could have been a factor in this series. He was excellent in Game 1, and had a solid third quarter stretch in Game 2. When he actually defended the rim and boxed out, he was able to help the Thunder dominate the boards and stifle the Rockets with excellent defense. But by the end of the series, he had lost his mojo. He was going out to defend screens, switching assignments way too readily, rebounding poorly, and handling the ball way too much on offense. He had forgotten his role, and so had Scott Brooks. His benching at the end of the series was a darned shame, because if he had played the right way, this series could have easily been over in 4.|
||Kendrick Perkins did not belong on the court in this series, and by the time Game 6 rolled around everyone, including the coach, knew it. Perk will be needed against the Grizzlies, but for now, let's just forget his play vs the Rockets ever happened.|
11.4 PPG, 2.6 REB, 1.4 AST, 1.0 ST, 0.2 BL, 1.2 TO
7.6 PPG, 1.0 REB, 0.6 AST, 0.4 ST, 0.2 Bl, 0.6 TO
Here's a quote from Tim Duncan, talking about Spurs teammate Robert Horry in 2005:
"I'll tell you the deal with Rob, Rob just hangs out the entire game. He does it all season long, he doesn't do anything. He doesn't feel like playing. He shows up sometimes, and then you put him in the fourth quarter in a big game, whether it be regular season or the playoffs, and he's like, 'Okay, it's time to play now. I've been hanging out the entire season, it's time to play now.' And he just turns it on."
Just replace "Rob" with "Derek". 'Nuff said.
|Sherman||What can I say? At least for one round of the playoffs, I could not have been more wrong about Derek Fisher. OKC's 3-point shooting is still a weak spot, but not because of Fish. he shot 10-18 from the arc (62%), did not turn the ball over much, and played solid defense against the Rockets guards. I don't know what will happen against Memphis, but against Houston, the Thunder would have had a tough time winning without Fisher and that's something I NEVER thought I would ever write.|
5.4 PPG, 4.4 REB, 1.2 AST, 0.4 ST, 1.2 BL, 0.0 TO
1.6 PPG, 2.2 REB, 0.6 AST, 0.2 ST, 0.2 Bl, 0.2 TO
||Earlier in the series, I wrote an article called "Scott Brooks Has Failed". A little bit later, I wrote an article called, "Scott Brooks Has Failed, Again." If you can't tell, I'm not a big fan of what he did this series. There's a laundry list of things I didn't agree with, but I'll highlight a few. His horrible defensive strategy in Game 5, where he told the Thunder to stop pressuring an iso-heavy team. His refusal to play Collison and Ibaka together. His refusal to use Ronnie Brewer as a ballhandler. His horrible 47 minute Kevin Durant point guard experiment in Game 4. His unwillingness to control the boards, instead preferring to try to outscore the opposing team. But eh, it's all water under the bridge at this point. There's arguments to be made on a lot of sides. I just hope he knows that the Grizzlies like to dominate the paint.|
||Scott Brooks got his first big taste of what it is like when he loses a star player for an extended period of time. Gregg Popovich, Erik Spoelstra, Doc Rivers, they all know what it's like and they've learned to adapt. Brooks has not, but there is still time. Game 5 might have been one of Brooks' worst as a pro. Not only did he lose, but he resorted to the horrible hack-a-Asik strategy that turned the entire world against him. While Brooks' in-game awareness is still a weak spot, he does deserve credit for keeping OKC's heads in the game and not let them falter again in Game 6. His between-games adjustments are solid still, so let us hope his in-game skill catches up soon.|