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Thursday Bolts: 2.22.18

Thursday Bolts: 2.22.18

Nick Gallo previews tonight’s Thunder @ Kings match-up: “The All-Star Break wasn’t just a chance for Thunder players (besides Russell Westbrook and Paul George who participated in the weekend in Los Angeles) to get a well-deserved breather. It was also an opportunity for the Thunder coaching and front office staff to evaluate the first 59 games of the season, particularly the latest stretch without the services of Andre Roberson, to determine any opportunities for growth moving forward. Head Coach Billy Donovan said he looked at the offense to try to add wrinkles in the halfcourt, baseline out of bounds and side out of bounds plays, explaining that having counters and trying to be creative is a crucial part of his job. Making some tweaks coming down this final stretch, starting tonight against a Kings club that is starting rookies in De’Aaron Fox and Josh Jackson, will be intriguing to watch.”

Fred Katz on Steven Adams and one of the quirkiest rebounding seasons in recent memory: “Adams is pacing to become only the 10th player since the NBA started tracking offensive and defensive rebounds in the mid-1970s to average five offensive boards a game. The list includes Hall of Famers Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, Moses Malone and Dennis Rodman and historic glass gluttons Michael Cage, Andre Drummond , Larry Smith, Kevin Willis and Jayson Williams.  “It means that we miss a lot of shots, to be honest,” Adams said. But surely, Adams is being modest, not honest. He still leads the NBA in offensive rebound rate, the percentage of his team’s misses he pulls down while he’s on the floor.”

Erik Horne on Steven Adams and how box out data doesn’t matter to him: “At the Thunder’s first practice after the All-Star break, center Steven Adams sat down in a chair next to the team’s practice court and was delivered news about a new way to measure his game. NBA.com created a new stat to chart “box outs.” Adams’s response was immediate, prompted by a chuckle. “Why?” The NBA continues to expand its statistics, which continues to give the guys who do the dirty work more credit. That means even better ways to quantify the irreplaceable Adams, who now has even more evidence to support his impact.”

Brett Dawson on Carmelo Anthony unplugging during the All-Star break: “Anthony turned off and tuned out the All-Star Game. “Yeah, I shut everything off,” Anthony said Wednesday. “Phones was off. No TVs. Just being in the moment with my wife, my son, just having an enjoyable time and really focusing in on them right now. It was just something that I really wanted to kind of distance myself from for a couple days. That was the only way I was gonna be able to kind of reboot and replenish myself.” And Anthony needed the break.”

Kelly Scaletta (DIME Mag) on which Western Conference teams will miss the playoffs: “There is some cause for concern, though. Andre Roberson is done for the season and they haven’t looked the same without him. Their net rating on the season is 4.8 points worse with Roberson sidelined. Only Westbrook (4.9) makes a greater difference. While they did blow out the Warriors, which was a good win, they’ve lost five of their last eight overall, and the only other two wins came against the lowly Memphis Grizzlies. It’s significant that they are tied in the loss column with ninth-place Los Angeles Clippers. Verdict: The Thunder most likely get in, but only if they figure out how to play defense without Roberson.”

Jeremy Stevens (Hashtag Basketball) on lessons learned from Patrick Patterson: “Players like Patterson are about as good as the offense you can put around them. Sometimes a system can accommodate a Patrick Patterson or a Jae Crowder, somebody who may fit into one scheme like a glove, but are not the type of player who can be simply plugged into any other system after a trade. In theory, Patterson could be just as effective while playing with the Thunder’s starters as he was with Toronto, as we know that a Westbrook drive is almost guaranteed to draw multiple defenders and free up three-point shooters. Per Cleaning the Glass, Patterson spends the bulk of his minutes with lineups made up of mostly bench players and the occasional Paul George, so it doesn’t surprise me that the Thunder have a hard time getting him involved.”

Nick Wright challenged Colin Cowherd on his unrelenting Russell Westbrook trashing: “The overall package of Russell Westbrook is a package that, in the worst-case scenario, is the eighth greatest basketball player in the world and, in the best-case scenario, is fourth or fifth. It’s absurd to me, as much as I love you, how much time you spend tearing down a guy who is clearly, unanimously, obviously one of the 10 best in the world at what he does.”

Berry Tramel on big Thunder match-ups down the home stretch: “OKC plays at Golden State, at Toronto, at Boston, at New Orleans and at Miami, while hosting San Antonio, Portland, the Clippers and Miami. Minnesota plays at Washington, at Denver, at the Clippers, while hosting Boston and Utah. Advantage Minnesota. So here is my prediction for the West standings come April 12: 1. Golden State; 2. Houston; 3. Minnesota; 4. Oklahoma City; 5. Utah; 6. Portland; 7. San Antonio; 8. Denver.”

Around the League: Kawhi Leonard is cleared to return but likely won’t this season…. Dirk thinks Mavs’ allegations are “disgusting”…. Mark Cuban was fined $600,000 for tanking comments…. LeBron doesn’t want the NBA to tinker with playoff seeding…. The Warriors will hang out with D.C. youth instead of making White House visit.… Could Kawhi be done in San Antonio?…. The Warriors & Kings will play a preseason game in Seattle.