Author: Kurt Helin

Kevin Durant, Tony Allen

Five Things We Learned in NBA Wednesday: OKC reminds us the West playoffs will be bloodbath


If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while discussing what is wrong with action films today….

Oklahoma City routs Memphis, reminds us the Western Conference playoffs are wide open. Fox Sports’ Bill Reiter recently compared the coming WesternConfernce playoffs go Game of Thrones — a lot of worthy successors are going to be slaughtered. Consider what Oklahoma City did to Memphis Wednesday your reminder of that. This game was close until midway through the first quarter when the Grizzlies missed a few shots, which Oklahoma City turned into fast break points. Suddenly the tempo of the game changed, OKC went on a 20-2 run and when that was over so was the game. Memphis never threatened again. With that win the Thunder enter the All-Star break just half a game back of Phoenix and the eight seed in the West. The final playoff slot in the West (they are six games back of the seven-seed Spurs, the Thunder are not catching them.) Oklahoma City vs. Golden State in the first round of the playoffs seems likely. Again, a lot of worthy successors are going to be slaughtered out West.

Don’t look now, but Boston is in the playoff chase in the East. Sentences I never expected to type this season: Evan Turner beat the Hawks at the buzzer. But there you have it. Atlanta was about as focused as a high school senior the day before Spring break and credit Boston for taking advantage. With the win, Boston moves just two games back of Charlotte for that final playoff slot in the East (and the chance to lose to Atlanta in the first round). Boston would need to pass not only Charlotte (or seven-seed Miami), but also Brooklyn and Detroit to get into the postseason dance. Maybe it’s not likely, but stranger things have happened. For example, Evan Turner beat the Hawks at the buzzer.

Toronto is winning again, and DeMar DeRozan provided the dagger against Washington. Toronto started off the season hot, lost their way for a while due to injuries and the fact their defense just isn’t that great, but they have found their way again — Toronto has won 9-of-11. That includes three straight wins over playoff teams: The Spurs, Clippers and on Wednesday night the Wizards. This is the second Raptors’ win over the Wizards in the last two weeks, and although this second game was  not pretty, rather a grind-it-out affair, the Raptors will take it. Toronto remains the two seed in the East and while Chicago lurks and Cleveland is charging up the standings, the Raptors are going to have home court in the first round. Which means a good chance to advance, because DeMar DeRozan can do this:

Shabazz Muhammad dunked so hard he hit his own face. Minnesota is a lot more entertaining to watch with Ricky Rubio back at the helm — they get out and run now. Which plays right into the game of now healthy Shabazz Muhammad, he likes to finish dunks. Sometimes so hard he dunks on himself (thanks to Zach Harper).

DeAndre Jordan is putting up video game numbers. The Clippers center has put up a 20-20 stat line in two straight games and three times in the last eight days. With Blake Griffin out following elbow surgery, the Clippers needed Jordan to step up a little, but nobody expected him to go NBA Jams on us. He was key to punishing the Dwight Howard-less Rockets inside and getting the Clippers a quality win at home Wednesday.

It’s official: Dirk Nowitzki to replace Anthony Davis in All-Star Game

Utah Jazz v Dallas Mavericks

With All-Star their games over, guys were already flying out for their All-Star weekend vacations Wednesday night when the games ended. Which meant Commissioner Adam Silver wasn’t going to waste any time naming a replacement for Anthony Davis, who had to drop out of the Sunday’s contest due to a shoulder injury.

Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki will replace him, Silver announced on Wednesday night.

Dallas had just beaten Utah behind 15 points from Nowitzki when the word came down. The big German who has scored more points than anyone born outside the United States in NBA history (and is seventh overall on the scoring list) has averaged 18.3 points and 6 rebounds a night this season.

This will be Nowitzki’s 13th All-Star game.

Davis is the third Western Conference All-Star starter voted in by the fans who has had to drop out of the game, joining Kobe Bryant and Blake Griffin. While Silver gets to name the replacement on the team, it falls to Steve Kerr to name the fifth starter. Wednesday night Kerr announced that James Harden and Klay Thompson would start for Bryant and Griffin, we’ll see where he goes to replace Davis but expect a big man to get the nod

Kevin Love leaves game with eye injury not to return

Miami Heat v Cleveland Cavaliers

Kevin Love was having a solid night — 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting, six rebounds and four assists. That after another impressive game where he had 32 points. Maybe this could be something to build on…

Fate is just not going to let it be that easy for Love this season.

He suffered an eye injury a couple minutes in the third quarter and did not return to the game. Dave McMenamin of ESPN has the details.

Love suffered a right corneal abrasion and was to travel with the team to Chicago on Wednesday night. The Cavs said Love’s injury would be re-evaluated Thursday and that they would update his status for that night’s game at that time.

Expect him to sit out Thursday’s night showdown with the Bulls in Chicago (who may be without Jimmy Butler). Hopefully, he is back after the break.

Then he can get back to trying to figure out how to play with LeBron James (Chris Bosh warned it would not be easy for Love.