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Friday Bolts: 4.20.18

Nick Gallo with yesterday’s Thunder practice report: “Adams said that against Favors, it’s important to do your work early and with Rudy Gobert the key is to drive him as far from the rim as possible. Against both Jazz players, box outs need to be smarter, not necessarily harder. Driving the opposition under the rim or away from a potential carom is more important than the amount of space created. “We need to do a better job rebounding the basketball. There was plenty of opportunities for us on film where we had (Favors) sandwiched and we had him blocked out,” Donovan noted. “We needed to go up and rebound the basketball better. There were times we got caught in rotation where we had some guards. They got caught down on him because we were in rotation. Then there were some times where he really kept the ball alive on the glass.”

Berry Tramel on the Thunder’s history of going 1-1 in a playoff series: “The Jazz beat the Thunder 102-95 Wednesday night, and now the Western Conference playoff series is tied 1-1. This is not new ground. Seven times in Oklahoma City history, the Thunder has had homecourt advantage but managed just a split in the first two games. Such a scenario turns the series into a five-game competition, with the Thunder at homecourt disadvantage. Doesn’t sound promising. But the Thunder has survived such problems. The Thunder is 4-2 in advancing to the next round, when the series is tied 1-1 and OKC is headed out on the road.”

Tom Ley (Deadspin) on it being time for Carmelo Anthony to make some shots: “The problem isn’t just that Melo is missing shots, although it definitely is that, but that he’s not doing anything else of note on the court either. George is most often playing lockdown defense on the other team’s best scorer, and Westbrook is caught up in his full-tilt orchestration of the game. Melo, meanwhile, is only tasked with setting himself up for catch-and-shoot threes in the corners and as a trailer in transition. These circumstances should be a good thing for the Thunder. If you had been asked to imagine how Melo might tank OKC’s season last summer, you probably would have pictured him demanding the ball on the block at every opportunity and sourly grinding away possessions with his jab step. If you had been asked to imagine a way he might lift the Thunder to another level, you probably would have pictured him putting his ego aside and taking shots as they come to him. He’s mostly been doing that, but the shots just aren’t falling.”

Erik Horne on Corey Brewer vs Donovan Mitchell: “Corey Brewer thinks he needs to be more aggressive. The world at large thinks he needs to swap with Paul George. There are a whole lot of voices chiming into the “Who guards Donovan Mitchell?” conversation. The Jazz rookie is averaging 27.5 points per game as the Thunder and Jazz head to Salt Lake City for Game 3 of their Western Conference first round series tied 1-1. But Mitchell’s deft drives and changes of speed didn’t put into perspective what Brewer had done much of the game. Mitchell sprung loose toward the end of the third quarter against the Thunder in Game 2. The argument was made for George to be on the sensational Jazz rookie without looking at the other factors, namely Brewer has played Mitchell well and George isn’t healthy.”

Tom Ziller (SB Nation) on how Rudy Gobert changed Game 2 for Utah: “Shot selection isn’t determined in a vacuum. What the defense is doing affects what shots you decide to take, even if you’re as stubborn as these scorers. And the Jazz happen to have one of the very best defenses in the NBA and the presumptive Defensive Player of the Year in Rudy Gobert. That is a huge factor, not just in how the shots the Thunder did take fared but in determining what shots the Thunder were comfortable taking. Gobert is the league’s premier rim protector, and he played the final eight minutes, 44 seconds of the game. The Thunder went 6-of-21 from the floor in the span. Take away Steven Adams and Jerami Grant, and the other OKC players went a combined 1-of-13 with Gobert on the floor in the fourth.”

Ryan McDonald (Deseret News) breaks down the final minutes of Game 2: “In the biggest contest of the year Wednesday night, the Jazz used a strong finish to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 102-95 to tie the teams’ first-round playoff series at a game apiece as it heads to Salt Lake City for the next two tilts. With the game tied at 89 and just over four minutes remaining, Utah closed on a 13-6 run to seize the victory. Here’s a breakdown of what happened in the final minutes.”

Brett Dawson had a playoff Q&A with Raymond Felton: “You give up offensive rebounds, you give loose balls, they come down and hit a 3 off those possessions, that can hurt. That can change the momentum of the game. It can give them confidence. It’s so many things that can happen in those situations. Like I said, it’s a lot of things that hurt us tonight, why we lost. We’ll watch film…, get back to the drawing board, get some good work in before we head out to Utah and go try to get these two.”

Giri Nathan (Deadspin) on the Thunder possibly being shady about a Steven Adams injury: “The center was in no mood to elaborate, telling ESPN’s Royce Young that he was “still above ground so can’t complain, mate,” and coach Billy Donovan also denied that Adams had an injury issue. Yes, it’s the playoffs, and every shred of information might be made useful by the enemy, but also, the evidence is being broadcast on national television. Steven Adams sure looks injured, and the Thunder aren’t fooling anyone.”

Ross Dwyer (Sneaker News) checks out the latest colorway of the Why Not Zer0.1: “Family has always been tremendously important to Russell Westbrook, and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s triple-double machine is paying homage to his brother with an upcoming colorway of his Why Not Zer0.1’s. Westbrook’s brother Raynard is set to graduate with a PHD from the University of Central Oklahoma, and the new sneaker draws inspiration from the PHD and the colors of the school. An all-black upper is accompanied by mis-matched tongues and heel detailing: pink and blue on the left, and Thunder orange/blue on the right. Each shoe’s insole features the opposite colorway from the tongue, and the shoe is completed by a white outsole featuing a pink Jumpman logo.”

Around the League: Joel Embiid returned and the Sixers went up 2-1 on Miami…. The Sixers and Heat had some disagreements about garbage time layups…. The Pelicans are up 3-0 on Portland…. Golden State took a 3-0 lead over San Antonio…. KD tweaked his ankle in the victory…. The support for Greg Popovich continued during Game 3 of Spurs/Warriors.