Tag: Oklahoma City

Miami Heat v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Two

2012 NBA Finals Game 3: 20 observations as the series shifts to South Beach


Here are twenty observations about the 2012 NBA Finals through two games as the series shifts to Miami for a three-game set.

1. First, and really, this can’t be stressed enough, the 2-3-2 format is horrible. I get why. I do. You don’t want the Finals dragging in for an entire month. But here’s the thing. And you don’t want to put teams on a two-day travel schedule during the Finals, even though you just got done putting them through the same for the Conference Finals, but whatever. Here’s my issue. If you went to the same schedule as a normal playoff series, only with adding an extra day in for travel, the series, if carried out to seven games, which is rare, would end on the 28th. Yes, that’s the same day the draft is scheduled. But that’s in an outlier lockout year. This same schedule for the Finals applies every year.

Having homecourt advantantage in a series is just that, you’re supposed to have a slight edge by having one more home game. But the 2-3-2 effectively rewards the higher seed by giving them an extra home game and punishes the other team by saddling them with a three-game set at home. Winning those three in a row is nearly impossible. The NBA would do well to fix this thing. It’s just not worth the impact on the series.

2.  This, considering context, is one of the most amazing blocks I’ve ever seen.

Which almost makes the twelve pumfakes Ibaka fell for and the half dozen rotations he missed totally fine.

3. The Thunder have an interior rotation problem, and it’s not just Kendrick Perkins, though he’s been especially bad. The gap between Perkins on and off court for OKC is wideer, but the Thunder are still better with Ibaka off than on as well, a +6.9 mark to +5.4 with him on. Even Nick Collison struggled in Game 2 with his usual brand of low-stats, high-impact performance.

A lot of it, honestly, is Chris Bosh. Bosh, for all the grief he’s taken, is still a pretty good player, and when he’s giving the kind of effort he has in these playoffs, both before and after his abdominal injury, he’s a tough cover. Perkins gets blown by by Bosh, Ibaka loses him on the pump fake or can’t maintain his spacing to contest the mid-range jumper, and Collison winds up fouling him. Ultimately, this may just have to be something the Thunder live with. We thought interior play was going to be a big advantage for OKC. Not so much.

4. It says a lot about the state of the positional revolution sourced by Free Darko that this series exists. You have two teams throwing small-ball lineups at one another for long stretches. One thing that does bug me is this description of Shane Battier as playing power forward. To say that Battier is playing the 4 because he winds up guarding a big is lost, because there are so many switches and cross-matches in this series that everyone winds up guarding someone they have no business guarding. In reality, Battier is playing combo forward alongside James, he’s just handling different responsibilities thereof.

5. He’s also shooting the freaking lights out, something no one expects to hold over the course of this series. It’s an interesting phenomenon. Thing is, guys will often have series where they simply cannot miss. You want an example? Against the Blazers in the playoffs last year, DeShawn Stevenson shot 40 percent from 3-point-range in 12 minutes per game. Against the Lakers, 35.7 percent in 13 minutes per game. Thunder? 23.8 percent in 20 minutes. Against the Heat, one of the best defenses in the league last year? 56.5 percent in 20 minutes. These things happen. You have to live with them, sometimes. Battier will probably plummet back to Earth. But don’t think for a second that this is some crazy outlier. Happens every playoffs.

6. When LeBron James asserts himself inside, the Thunder have absolutely no one who can adequately defend him without bringing at least two help defenders. Seeing James work in the post against Durant is like watching a sapling try to guard the Monstars. Dude bounced off him like a pinball. In Game 2, James took just four shots outside of the paint. So expect in Game 3 for him to shoot more than half outside, because he never sticks with what works.

7. Durant’s fourth-quarter shooting exploits have been the stuff you always read about and watch on retrospective videos. It’s like watching a legend happen before your eyes. This team is simply never out of a contest because of Durant’s range and scoring ability.

8. And what should be even more amazing here is that Battier has played tremendous defense on him. Outside of a few blown rotations and over-helps, Battier has stuck him all series, and stuck that hand in his face like Durant hates on every jumper. It just doesn’t matter. If the Thunder wind up winning this series on the strength of what we’ve seen from Durant the first two games, Battier and Craig Ehlo should go hang out.

9. You know what I’m not excited about as we go to South Beach? The crowd. And jokes about the crowd. And vitriolic responses from Heat fans about jokes about the crowd. And “They have fans?” jokes about the fans who are vitriolic about the jokes about the crowd. Just show up so we can let this go, Miami. You were there and loud for Boston Game 7. Treat every game like that.

10. Traffic is far and away he worst excuse by teams with weak showings from fans. Everywhere has traffic. There are degrees, but everybody has to leave work early. Come on, now.

11. LeBron James has talked a lot about getting back to having fun playing basketball this year. But since Game 6 of the Boston series, there has been no fun. No fun at all. The man is 100 percent business, and it’s kind of cool to see. No excessive dancing, no silliness. He’ll likely ruin this at any moment, but it’s been cool to see a player’s public persona evolve. He continues the be the most fascinating and divisive story in sports.

12. If you really think that the problem in Game 2 for the Thunder, a game in which they scored 105 point per 100 possessions and 115.9 in the second half, was Russell Westbrook’s offense, I’m betting you caught maybe three Thunder games before the playoffs. It takes a complete misunderstanding of the Thunder offense to put this on Westbrook, and it’s a shame that he’s getting scapegoated (LeBron’d, if you will) like this. His defense in Game 2 was one of the things that kept the Thunder in it.

13. This series is about the Thunder defense and anyone who thinks differently is caught up in the trees trying to find the forest.

14. The blue-then-white cross-sections for OKC in Game 2 were genius and it created a really cool effect. White-outs are the worst, but blue-and-white-outs are pretty cool, it turns out. Created kind of a haze.

15. Battier may revert to form, but Chalmers is likely to step up and hit some big shots. Don’t sleep on Little Brother, he’s got some tricks in him.

16. I still find it incredible that Miami didn’t play Joel Anthony or Ronny Turiaf at all in Game 2 and still won the rebounding battle.

17. As much as I warned people off overreacting to Game 1, the same has to occur with Game 2. The Thunder can and will win at least one on the Heat’s home floor. This series is just getting started.

18. That said, the pressure dynamic has completely switched. If the Heat take the next two, they go into Games 5 and 6 in the “must win all the time no mistakes ever” mode which is really hard to maintain for two games, let alone three. If the Heat drop Game 4, but take Game 5, they’ve reacquired momentum headed into OKC where they know they can win. Losing Game 3, though, sets a whole different dynamic. If Miami comes out of South Beach with only one win, OKC will have broken their confidence. The series will end in 6 if that happens.

19. Well, the lockout and the legal battles and planking and greed and misery were nice, but I guess a highly entertaining series where the fourth quarter is always close and superstars are putting in superstar performances is OK, too.

20. Seriously, how much fun is this?

The Flaming Lips record a “Thunder Up” Anthem

Harvest Music Festival

The Flaming Lips, an alternative rock band formed in Oklahoma that has won 3 Grammy Awards, have just released a song called “Thunder Up” that can be listened to for free on soundcloud.com.

The band is made up of huge Thunder fans, and they have expressed their love for the team in the past. If you’re a fan of either the Flaming Lips or the Thunder, this could be a pick-me-up after Oklahoma City’s tough game 1 loss, although I still prefer the Trackrunners’ ode to the Golden State Warriors after their 1st-round win over the Dallas Maverick in 2007. 

Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie for finding this.

Video: Top 10 plays from Kevin Durant’s charity game

Kevin Durant, LeBron James
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Kevin Durant gave the fans in Oklahoma City what they have been dying to see — a huge game from Michael Beasley.

No? Well, Beasley did have 56 points in Durant’s Sunday charity game in Oklahoma City, showing that when he plays in a game with no defense he can score (he was almost scoreless in the fourth quarter when the teams got serious). Maybe Beasley was motivated after being stood up. Either way, there was a good show for the folks in OKC.

And there were much better highlights than just Beasley, many of them courtesy Chris Paul and James Harden. Especially the bounce-pass ally-oop from Paul to Harden. And the 13,000 people in attendance loved every minute of it. Even if some had to ask who Beasley was.

Thanks to BallisLife.com for the video.

Not much of Durant’s film shot in OKC. Thanks lockout.

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We’ve told you that Kevin Durant is going to be a movie star. Clooney-like. He’s going to the big screen in a major motion picture.

And they will not be filming much of that in Oklahoma City now. Thanks a lot lockout. The Oklahoman spells it out.

This is an economic hit to OKC — filming brings a lot of people and a lot of money to wherever a production takes place. That money is now headed to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The entire project couldn’t be shot in Oklahoma City because of a snag with state incentives for film production. The state of Louisiana offers a tax credit of 85 cents on the dollar, making the state a premier destination for filming. Oklahoma offers a 37 percent rebate for companies filming in the state, but the Oklahoma Film & Music Office had already run out of funding for this fiscal year.

Understand this: making movies is a business. A lucrative business, but a business nonetheless. The money you save on a production is money that impacts the bottom line. So rather than putting up all of “CSI: Miami” cast and crew in Miami for months at a time they film chunks of it near my Long Beach home and around Southern California. (It’s no longer weird to see Miami Dade police cars in my California neighborhood.) Anywhere they can approximate a Miami look.

This is no different. But it sucks for Oklahoma City.

Filming of the movie is set to start mid-September. I wish Durant having to return to his day job would screw up production, but that doesn’t seem likely.

Kevin Durant says “nothing” to TMZ, that gets him in trouble

Memphis Grizzlies v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Seven

Kevin Durant is not the kind of athlete who ends up on TMZ as he is hopping from club-to-club or trying to line up his next reality show. That’s just not who Durant is. He’s more the “wear a backpack to a press conference” kind of guy.

Yet he still got in trouble via TMZ for “dissing” Oklahoma City. In a very TMZ manufactured controversy.

The Thunder Blog at the Oklahoman breaks it down.

It’s no surprise that the footage is captured by TMZ. When asked what there is to do in Oklahoma for fun Durant responded, “nothing” and kept walking. TMZ then made sort of a big deal about it on its television show….

Durant made an attempt to explain his actions in messages on both his Twitter account as well as his Facebook page. His reason for saying “nothing?” He didn’t want to talk to TMZ. Durant had the right idea in mind. He should have said nothing. But he’s too nice of a guy to blow off people and say nothing. So he said something. And that something, which was the answer, “nothing,” created a small controversy, which is exactly what TMZ covets.

But, really, there is no controversy.

Durant has done nothing but praise Oklahoma City and say how much he loves the city since the franchise moves there, and the residents there are getting pissed over this? Really? That says more about how those Oklahoma City residents feel about their city than it does Durant. As Darnell Mayberry says in the blog post, those people need to get over their inferiority complex. OKC is not Miami or New York when it comes to things to do, especially if you are young and single like Durant. Thing is, Durant is a different kind of guy and he likes it that way. He’s not seeking out the bright lights.

Get off his back. This isn’t even a real controversy.