4 min read

Good Friday Bolts: 4.19.19

Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) previews tonight’s Game 3 in OKC: “On offense, the Thunder is getting the types of shots that it wants. Over the first two games it has hot 61.4 percent on 35.0 attempts in the restricted area and taken nearly as many corner three-pointers (9.0 per game) as it has non-paint two-point jumpers (11.5 per game). Unfortunately for Donovan and company, the Thunder is shooting just 22.2 percent on corner threes and 14.0 percent on the 21.5 above the break three-pointers it has gotten. Back in OKC, the Thunder can be more productive with those same shots. Where it must be more efficient is in the turnover column. This team will have a hard time surviving another quarter like the third in Game 2, when Portland took 7 more field goals due to 8 Thunder giveaways. Those stretches can snowball if the Thunder doesn’t deliberately get exactly what it wants on each trip.”

Ryan Sterling (Blazer’s Edge) previews Game 3 from the other side: “Don’t get complacent. A 2-0 lead is just that: a two-game series lead. It does not mean the series is over. The Blazers must keep their foot on the gas in a hostile environment, and not take the series lead for granted. Even if Portland leads early, other Western Conference playoff games have shown that no lead is safe in the postseason.”

Erik Horne (Oklahoman) on if it’s time for Paul George to spend more time guarding Damian Lillard: “In Games 1 and 2, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined to average 58 points per game on 45.5 percent shooting. According to NBA.com, on a combined 163 defensive possessions George played, he was the primary defender on either Lillard or McCollum only 38 times – less than 25 percent of his defensive possessions. George takes a beating getting over screens on primary ballhandlers, one reason why he’s been stashed on Maurice Harkless, Al-Farouq Aminu, Rodney Hood or Evan Turner on more than half of his possessions each game. Fighting over screens from Portland bigs Enes Kanter, Zach Collins or Meyers Leonard over and over for 40 minutes could reaggravate George’s shoulder injury. Thunder coach Billy Donovan didn’t give a direct answer when asked if George would defend the Blazers’ guards more if not for the shoulder soreness.”

Ben Francis (NewsHub New Zealand) on Steven Adams being upset: “Kiwi NBA star Steven Adams feels “pissed off”, as his Oklahoma City Thunder try to erase a two-game deficit against the Portland Trail Blazers in their Western Conference matchup. After back-to-back defeats in Portland, the Thunder return to Oklahoma City for a two-game home stand, where they aim to level the series. Adams has been a force on both ends of the court, but his efforts were not enough to prevent the Blazers from winning the opening two games 104-99 and 114-94 respectively.  The Thunder big man was asked about the overall feeling of the team before game three on Saturday (NZ time) and the 25-year-old gave the most ‘Adams’ answer possible. “[They] seem pretty focused, I think,” he said. “Myself, I feel a bit s**t, you know? Just a bit pissed off, but that’s just me personally.”

Jenni Carlson (Oklahoman) on why Thunder/Blazers has become a referendum on the entire OKC franchise: “A week ago, we were marveling not only about how the Thunder side-stepped the Warriors in the first round and ended up instead with a team it swept during the regular season but also how it avoided being on the same side of the bracket as Golden State and Houston. There’s no primrose path in the Western Conference, but the Thunder seemed to have it pretty good. Now, losing in a sweep seems more likely than winning the series. Listen, I fully appreciate the longevity of this franchise. Nine times in the playoffs in 10 seasons. Ten series victories during that time. All but a handful of teams in the association would take those results in a heartbeat. But since the departure of He Who Shall Not Be Named, the Thunder has won nary a playoff series. That the team has made the playoffs in each season since Kevin Durant bolted for The Bay is no small feat, but still, it hasn’t advanced.”

Royce Young (ESPN) on Russell Westbrook’s path to breaking the triple-double: “He was asked about when the milestone will hit him — averaging a triple-double three consecutive seasons. “I just take it one day at a time,” he began, seeming to stick with the typical answer for these kind of questions. Then he changed course. “It’ll hit me at some point,” Westbrook said. “Like it’s gonna hit everybody else in this room, too.” He shook the ice in his cup, gave a subtle side-eye and walked out. Point taken. So, why hasn’t it hit us? Where were the nightly Westbrook trackers, the deep dives into history, the artsy magazine covers this time around? A feat that was once deemed unattainable had just been captured — for the third straight time. It’s Westbrook’s own fault, really. He kind of broke the triple-double.”

On the 24th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, here’s Brett Dawson (Athletic) with a December 2018 piece about how the Memorial made Paul George feel like an Oklahoman: “On July 11, 2017, the day George arrived in Oklahoma City following a June 30 trade from the Indiana Pacers, he was greeted by a throng of fans at the airport. Later that night, he celebrated with a party at The Jones Assembly, a hot downtown nightspot, and a dinner that included new teammate Russell Westbrook, team owner Clay Bennett and general manager Sam Presti. In between all that, just after fans roared their approval at the airport, George and his family were whisked away to the Memorial. And maybe more than anything that day, it gave him an understanding of his new home. “It is a great transition because you immediately understand what it takes and what it is to be an Oklahoma citizen,” George told The Athletic. “The hard work, helping the man next to you, giving everything you have — I think it’s a direct line between the team, the community and the history. All of it comes together, and you realize and you understand what it takes to be an Oklahoman.”