Tag: Sasha Pavlovic

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant falls to the floor against Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen in the final moments in the second half of their Game 2 NBA Western Conference semi-final playoff basketball game in Oklahoma City.

Kevin Durant: ‘I can do a lot more’


Anyway you slice it, Kevin Durant is doing a lot for the Thunder.

Traditional stats say Durant is averaging 34.0 points, 10.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 1.6 steals in 44.3 minutes per game since Russell Westbrook’s injury.

Advanced stats say Durant has 2.2 win shares for a team that has won five playoff games, which means Durant alone has accounted for 44 percent of his team’s wins – the highest mark on a team still playing. Stephen Curry is closest at 32 percent. (Though the incredible Chris Paul accounted for 65 percent of the Clippers’ two wins.)

The eye test says Durant is playing exactly like a superstar should when his team is shorthanded.

Via Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman:

“I can do a lot more,” Durant said Sunday. “It’s always things you can do more. I talk to one of my good friends and he said no matter how good you’re playing you always can do more.

“That’s how I look at it. I just got to find ways to help them out and put them in great positions and continue to just be a vocal leader, a positive leader on the bench and every single time down the court and we’ll be fine.”

I can’t help but think of LeBron James. In 2005-06, LeBron became arguably the best player in the NBA. That was the first season he got a first-place MVP vote, at least.

Anyway, beginning with that season, LeBron spent five years in Cleveland as arguably the league’s best player. In those five years, the Cavaliers were more likely to lose before the conference finals than reach them. The point being, carrying a team at this level is hard – really, really hard.

But it’s also an opportunity for Durant.

Durant just had the best season of his career, maybe the best season by anyone other than LeBron since the mid-1990s. But Durant got no MVP support, and LeBron again ran away with the award. As we all know, LeBron – not Durant – is the best basketball player in the world right now.

LeBron took a team that started Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Drew Gooden, Larry Hughes and Sasha Pavlovic to the NBA Finals. Two years later, he took a team that started Mo Williams, Delonte West, Ilgauskas and Varejao back to the conference finals.

If Durant can carry the Thunder – a team that still has a better supporting cast than LeBron’s Cavs but plays in a much-tougher Western Conference – to the NBA Finals, the feat could vault Durant into the peripheral of the best-player discussion.

I don’t know whether Durant can do more, but I look forward to watching him try.

Video: Kevin Durant drops Sasha Pavlovic with the crossover

Kevin Durant, Richard Jefferson

We don’t really think of Kevin Durant as a skilled ball-handler, specifically. He’s certainly one of the smoothest scorers in the game, and can explode to the rim for a dunk in traffic just as easily as he can pull up for a quick-release three-pointer from distance.

Maybe this play will help get Durant’s handles a little more publicity.

Just as Durant passes half court with the ball, you can seeing him begin to set up his defender, Sasha Pavlovic. One quick move and Pavlovic is dropped, but Durant isn’t finished yet.

He could have pulled up for a floater, a shot that he can hit at a fairly high percentage. But continuing on the point guard track, he sees a cutting Nick Collison along the baseline, so he dishes a perfect and quick bounce pass that results in the easy slam.

Durant has proven to be enough of a problem already as the league’s leading scorer over the past three seasons. If he decides to focus on distributing like this a little more in the future, there will truly be no way of stopping him.

[via Dime]

Celtics trade for Courtney Lee done, but it got very complex

Courtney Lee, Paul George

We told you a couple days ago that Boston had reached a sign-and-trade deal to get Courtney Lee from the Rockets — and that is a beautiful fit for Boston. They get a guy who can defend on the perimeter, knock down threes and come off the bench. A defensively better version of Ray Allen.

But before it got finalized the rest of the deal got more complex and now has three teams in play. Let’s spell it out for you.

The Rockets receive forward JaJuan Johnson (who reportedly is so ticked about the move he has threatened not to report), guard E’Twaun Moore (who is rumored to be in a second trade to Chicago), big man Sean Williams and Charlotte’s second-round pick in next year’s draft (which Boston had the rights to).

Boston also will send swingman Sasha Pavlovic to Portland and Houston gets the rights to guard Job Diebler from Portland.

Yes, it got a tad more complex.

And Boston gave up a fair amount in this deal, but they are in win now mode after bringing Kevin Garnett back and Lee fits into this. By brining back KG, re-signing Brandon Bass, getting Jason Terry and moves like this, the Celtics had a good summer. They got better.

Paul Pierce wills Boston Celtics to victory, ties series with Atlanta Hawks

paul pierce

The Atlanta Hawks looked like a solid basketball team for about 35 minutes of Tuesday night’s game against the Boston Celtics, the team in danger of falling behind 2-0 in the seven-game series when they were forced to play without their starting backcourt. The Celtics looked like they’d return to Boston in a hole after trailing by 11 points late in the third quarter, too, but  like he’s done quite a few times since first donning Boston Green way back in 1998, Paul Pierce decided it was time to take over.

Pierce looked excellent in the first quarter as he scored 13 of the team’s 24 points, but even that performance wasn’t enough foreshadowing to lead everyone to believe he’d take the game’s final stanza over quite like he would. By the time things were done, in fact, it almost seemed as though Pierce said, “No Ray Allen? No Rajon Rondo? No problem!” as he hoisted the Celtics on his back on the way to 36 points, 14 rebounds and an 87-80 victory to tie the series at one game apiece for prior to Friday night’s Game 3 back in Boston.

The veteran wing sat idly by as the Celtics ran the offense through Garnett. Pierce took over midway through the fourth quarter when he smelled blood (thanks to the Hawks going into a terrible isolation offense) and ferociously attacked. The team’s fourth-quarter catalyst scored seven of nine Celtics points midway through the fourth quarter to move the game from a 60-60 tie to a 71-65 lead — capped off with an ode to Tim Tebow for good measure — and Boston would hold off the Hawks the rest of the way.

Pierce’s game will no doubt be talked about most as the reason Boston was able to steal a game in Atlanta despite missing both Allen (due to injury) and Rondo (due to suspension), but it could just as easily be attributed to Atlanta losing focus after playing pretty well through the first two and a half quarters of basketball. It certainly didn’t help that Josh Smith headed back to the locker room late in the fourth quarter with what was later diagnosed as a sprained knee, but even before that happened, the Hawks’ offense looked awful.

Atlanta shot worse than 35 percent from the field and, while it’d be great to be able to say that was due to a defensive battle, the Hawks simply quit trying to execute on the offensive end as the game progressed. Jeff Teague attacked the rim with reckless abandon instead of finding the open man off the drive like he did earlier in the game, Joe Johnson and Josh Smith were unable to create off the dribble and didn’t have any cutters to pass the ball too before they threw up errant shots (the two missed 23 combined field goal attempts) while the rest of the Hawks simply aren’t built to score in the isolation offense head coach Larry Drew drew(?) up.

As far as the rest of the game was concerned, it was great to be able to focus on some of the role players while the key guys were out — once getting past the fact that Sasha Pavlovic, Ivan Johnson, Keyon Dooling and Willie Green are all playing meaningful minutes in the playoffs, anyway. Kirk Hinrich didn’t have an impressive box score with just eight points, but his impact was much greater as he was by far the headiest guard in action Tuesday night; D-League stalwart Ivan Johnson and Jason Collins were able to basically bottle up Kevin Garnett before Drew left Collins in too long and he picked up his sixth foul up early in the fourth quarter; and Avery Bradley, another player that spent a significant amount of his rookie season in the NBA Development League, showed solid moxie as he played more than 41 minutes while picking up three steals, three blocks and just a single turnover as the team’s starting point guard.

It’s tough to say that the second game of the series mattered immensely as far as the big picture of the series is concerned since it’s possible Smith will be out due to the knee injury, Allen and Zaza Pachulia will return from injury and Rondo will be back from his one-game suspension. That said, though, it’s pretty difficult to imagine the Hawks will be able to overcome Pierce if he plays like a man possessed once again on Friday night.

Baseline to Baseline recaps: Jazz in, Clippers fall to Hawks

Blake Griffin

What you missed while thinking that if this cow tells the others what is going on at McDonald’s there is going to be a revolt….

Jazz 100, Suns 87: And the Jazz are in the playoffs while the Suns can start worrying about where Steve Nash will play next season. Our man Brett Pollakoff broke this one down.

Hawks 109, Clippers 102: Atlanta took control when they went on a 15-2 run to end the third quarter, then they held on for a comfortable win. That victory kept the Hawks a game ahead of the Celtics for home court when the two meet in the first round.

Chris Paul and Blake Griffin combined for 70 points, but every other Clipper combined to shoot 35.1percent and score 32 points. The Hawks did a good job of spacing, ball movement and attacking the mismatches they created. Joe Johnson was hot and finished with 28, Jeff Teague had 18. The Hawks also defended all the Clippers role players well.

Celtics 78, Heat 66: Worst. Game. Ever.

Not kidding, I’d rather watch Bobcats/Wizards again. Both team ran their benches out there the whole game and went deep into them. Sasha Pavlovic was your MVP with 16 points. Anyway, there were consequences — with the Miami loss Chicago is the top seed in the East. With the win the Celtics remain one game back of the Hawks for home court when the two teams meet in the first round.

Thunder 118, Kings 100: Sacramento had a 13 point lead in the third quarter that started to slip away, then in the fourth quarter Daequan Cook happened — 19 points on 9 shots (4-5 from three) and the Thunder pull away for the win.

Hornets 83, Warriors 81: In a tightly contested game the whole way New Orleans closed the game on an 11-2 run that had an odd, odd ending. With the game tied 81-81 Golden State’s Charles Jenkins’ put up a layup with five seconds left that Gustavo Ayon blocked. Greivis Vasquez grabbed the rock, pushed the ball up court and looked like he was going to take a three but instead passed to an open Marco Belinelli under the bucket for a game-winning layup — which Chris Wright came flying in to goaltend by blocking it off the backboard. Hornets win. Belinelli finished with 23.