3 min read

Monday Bolts – 4.21.14

Monday Bolts – 4.21.14
BoltsLogoNew1Ben Golliver of SI.com on Game 1

: “With the Grizzlies starting to tire, Durant kicked into overdrive, scoring 11 points in a six-minute stretch. As he often does, Durant did it from everywhere: knocking down a three-pointer, mixing in a mid-range jumper, getting to the free throw line and leaking out for two baskets in transition. The standout play from the sequence encapsulated why Durant is such a terrifying entity. Running ahead of the action, Durant stretched for an overthrown pass by Reggie Jackson and corralled the ball at full speed; he then took one step before jumping off the wrong foot to finish an “easy” layup. How many players his size have that type of dexterity? How many players with the necessary length to complete the catch also have sufficient coordination to make the basket? Those are rhetorical questions.”

Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com: “It’s not that the Thunder are unbeatable at home — the Grizzlies ended OKC’s season on the same floor last May. The Grizzlies have it within their power to find a way to win this series, too, though they’re certainly the underdog. But it was no real surprise the Thunder were the only high seed to defend its home court on the first day of the playoffs. Beating the Thunder when Durant and Westbrook are fully engaged — and they were in this one — is a task. Playing against the Thunder in Oklahoma City in a playoff game on April 19 — you’re playing against more than the players in uniform.”

Jeff Stotts of Five Thirty Eight on if no one got hurt this season: “At the top of the Northwest Division, the Oklahoma City Thunder only get better, winning 3.6 more games with the help of a healthy Russell Westbrook, who missed 36 games this season. Those extra games help put more distance between the Thunder and the Portland Trail Blazers, who decline as the league gets healthier. Only Indiana’s starters played more minutes together this season than the Blazers’ starting five.”

Jeff Caplan of NBA.com: “The sellout crowd moaned and groaned and hence the very reason Memphis and Dallas clobbered each other for four quarters and an overtime in the season finale for the right to call their shot against the roller coaster erraticism of the No. 2-seed Thunder over the precision performance of the Western Conference’s top-seeded Spurs. Brooks went on to say it doesn’t matter how you win as long as you win. And that’s true. And maybe the Thunder, so fast, so athletic, so frenetic at either end for stretches of unpredictable length and fury that it’s simply impossible to maintain such a level throughout a 48-minute game; that a letdown is inevitable and that a quality opponent, as the Grizzlies are, will sense an opening.”

Darnell Mayberry: “Depth. The Thunder has it. The Grizzlies don’t. Memphis’ second unit took an unexpected hit on the eve of this series when backup point guard Nick Calathes was slapped with a 20-game suspension for violating the league’s anti-drug policy. Though he’s not considered a threat on his own merit, his absence triggered a costly trickle-down effect. Starting small forward Tayshaun Prince then played only four minutes while dealing with dehydration, which left an already-sketchy second team even thinner. More importantly, it left the plodding Grizzlies hard-pressed to keep pace with a Thunder team looking to dictate the tempo and turn this series into a track meet.”

Berry Tramel: “Despite occasional lapses, especially on the perimeter, the Thunder defense has remained elite, despite tons of missed games by defensive specialists Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins. The one constant? Ibaka. Always a threat to swat an opponent’s drive. That’s unseen value. Every time an opponent passes out or dribbles back or loses aggression, that’s hidden value. That’s an undocumented but absolute benefit. Ibaka makes $12.25 million a year. He comes cheap. He can’t replaced. Literally. There is no one in the NBA with his skill set, other than Anthony Davis, a budding superstar.”

Craig Sager Jr. interviewing Pop caused the dust to fly.

Anthony Slater on Game 1: “Gutty effort, cutting that lead down to two at one point, but they ran out of gas. And in doing so, they may have shined a spotlight on the Grizzlies most glaring weakness. They don’t have much behind the core group. Tayshaun Prince has been bad and now he’s sick. Nick Calathes is average and now he’s suspended. Mike Miller is reliable, but is a specialist. The Grizzlies’ depth is eroding. Joerger seems to really only trust six guys, with James Johnson as a potential wild card. But he only got six minutes on Saturday. Beno Udrih got 15, the sixth-most on the team. Tells you all you need to know.”