3 min read

Thursday Bolts – 2.25.16

Thursday Bolts – 2.25.16

Erik Horne: “Yet, after breaking his shooting slump, Waiters wanted to talk defense. It


was his transition defense in the fourth quarter that shot the Thunder ahead. To start the fourth, Waiters and Durant miscommunicated on a pass that led to a 2-on-1 break for the Mavericks. Waiters backpedaled, kept his hands to his side and offered enough resistance to force a missed layup. Waiters started the break the other way and passed to Enes Kanter, who finished the and-1 layup, the start of a 15-0 run. After the Kanter bucket, Waiters gave a soft fist pump … then went and talked with Durant about the error.”

Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com: “The Thunder finished off the season sweep of the Mavs and dropped Dallas to 1-13 against the NBA’s division leaders. And the lone win comes with a big, fat asterisk in the form of reigning MVP Stephen Curry sitting out the game due to an injury. Let’s just be blunt: A failure to claim the fifth seed might as well be a death certificate for the Mavs. They’d be nothing but a nice little warm-up for the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs or Thunder in a first-round series.”

Anthony Slater: “But the staggering wasn’t Donovan’s only substitution wrinkle on Wednesday. He tinkered with a number of lineups. Late in the first quarter, he went with a no point guard unit, divvying the ball-handling duties up between Durant and Dion Waiters. The Mavericks were small and reserve-filled at the time, creating mismatches. Devin Harris had to guard Kevin Durant. And, uh, it didn’t go well for Dallas. Here’s an example. The Thunder call for a KD isolation post-up on Harris. Dirk knows it is necessary to help, so he bolts over for the quick double. KD identifies it and finds Nick Collison for an easy floater.”

My thing for ESPN.com on the staggered rotations.

Berry Tramel: “The Thunder is in a not-so-great race in the Western Conference. The Thunder is seven games behind the Spurs for second place and three games ahead of the Clippers for third. If the Thunder had won these two games coming out of the all-star break, it would be five behind the Spurs and five ahead of the Clips. But a real race brews behind the Clippers. Playoff seeds 5-8 in the West are up for grabs, including for the Dallas Mavericks, who host the Thunder on Wednesday night. The Thunder’s first-round playoff foe likely will be the sixth seed.”

Mike Breen in a Q&A: “But I think overall, with the way (Kevin) Durant and (Russell) Westbrook are playing, they are one of the teams that has a shot of defeating Golden State. They have got the offensive fire power. Those two stars are just incredible in their resiliency. Obviously, they put up big numbers, but they just want to win. The key for them, as it always has been, can they defend consistently and can they get consistent play from their bench? Those are the two questions that has to be asked.”

Hashtag analytics.

Darnell Mayberry: “Going forward, however, there is this thing called free agency that is coming whether Kevin Durant or anyone else in Oklahoma wants it to. And the Durant-Westbrook pairing is one that could have the biggest bearing on Durant’s highly-anticipated decision. Players of Durant’s caliber long to team with a player of Westbrook’s stature and, as we’ve seen, a star will leave his current situation to do so. In the case of Durant, nobody has a clue if he has a notion that the grass is greener elsewhere. He’s teamed with Westbrook for so long — and come up short so many times for various reasons — that it’s impossible to know how he feels about continuing the current arrangement.”