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Thursday Bolts: 3.29.18

Royce Young on Carmelo Anthony guaranteeing a Thunder playoff appearance: “With seven games to go, ESPN’s BPI playoff odds put the Oklahoma City Thunder at 97.5 percent to reach the postseason. Carmelo Anthony says you can go ahead and make that an even 100 percent. “We’ll be there. We’ll be there,” Anthony said Wednesday. “I think we’re confident enough to know that we’ll be there. Where? We’ll see when that time comes, but I believe we’ll be there. It’s something we planned on doing when we put this team together. It’s something at the beginning of the season, this is what we were looking forward to. This is why we put this team together.”

Kevin Pelton (ESPN) has Terrance Ferguson on his list of 11 players that could change the future of basketball: “With the NCAA eligibility of top players increasingly fraught in the wake of the FBI’s investigation of amateur basketball, the NBL seeks to build on Ferguson’s stint Down Under — which saw him drafted 21st overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder last June — to bring other top prospects to Australia. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reported earlier this month that the NBL plans to offer such players $100,000 Australian salaries (about $78,000 U.S.) funded by the league as part of its “Next Stars” program. It’s possible the NBA lowering its age limit could undercut the NBL’s efforts, but for now it looms as a more lucrative alternative to the NCAA — thanks in part to Ferguson’s example.”

Bonta Hill (San Francisco Examiner) on teams that threaten the Warriors: “Nobody inside or outside of the organization will openly admit this, but without Curry this is a matchup nobody wants. Nobody. Russell Westbrook despises the Warriors and would love nothing better than to send his former teammate, Kevin Durant, home in mid-April. Paul George plays the passing lanes so well, not to mention he never allows Klay Thompson to breathe. Steven Adams’ size causes the Warriors all kinds of issues. Can the Warriors survive without Curry against the Thunder? I think so, but this is the one opponent that has the talent to send the Warriors home. I’m telling you, the Thunder matchup so well with the Warriors. If you’re a fan of the NBA, you’d love to see this series. If you’re a Warriors fan, you may need some Prozac to get through this battle. It just wouldn’t be easy.”

Brett Dawson on rising intensity as the playoffs draw near: “On Thursday, the Thunder meets the Spurs in San Antonio with a chance to extend its lead on the home team in the race for the No. 4 seed. A win nabs the season tiebreaker for OKC against its rivals in silver and black. A Spurs win, on the other hand, would pull San Antonio into a tie for fourth, with the Pelicans right in the mix. That’s playoff pressure. The Thunder should be getting used to it.”

Fred Katz on Melo possibly resting in upcoming games: “The Thunder sat Anthony on the second night of a back-to-back in Portland on Mar. 3. And they eventually lost that game. But they didn’t regret the off-night for their starting power forward — and neither did Anthony, who shot 18 of 38 (47 percent) from 3-point range during the five games that followed. He looked fresher. And he admitted such. “I knew, personally, that that one game — I look at it as three or four days for me of rest, not just that one game — it was a big key in why I feel the way I feel right now,” Anthony said during the hot streak. It’s one of a few reasons why the Thunder could give the 33-year-old Anthony another rest day before the postseason begins. And if they plan on doing so, it could make the most sense to get it out of the way this week.”

Bill Haisten (Tulsa World) on Steven Adams as the Thunder’s most consistent player: “In advance of Thursday’s assignment at San Antonio, Adams again has career-high averages of 14.1 points and 9.0 rebounds. Beyond the numbers, his toughness has been a constant during a Thunder season defined mostly by underachievement. As Russell Westbrook became accustomed to new teammates, his performances were uneven during the first month of the season. Westbrook is the organization’s most important person, and Paul George has been consistently good and occasionally tremendous at each end of the floor, but Adams has been the most consistent Thunder player this season. Considering Adams’ efficiency — career-best 63 percent shooting from the field overall — he should get more scoring opportunities. In 36 games this season, he totaled fewer than 10 shot attempts from the field.”

Erik Horne on Melo being nominated for the PBWA Citizenship Award: “Carmelo Anthony was named one of five finalists Wednesday for the 2017-18 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, presented by the Professional Basketball Writers Association. Since 1974, the award has been presented annually by the PBWA “to a player, coach or athletic trainer who demonstrates outstanding service and dedication to the community.” Anthony is joined as a finalist by Dallas’ J.J. Barea, Golden State’s Kevin Durant, Houston’s James Harden and Miami’s Dwyane Wade.”

Fox Sports previews tonight’s Thunder @ Spurs match-up: “There will be playoff fever and intensity aplenty when the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder square off on Thursday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, and that’s a good thing. The game is especially crucial to San Antonio’s playoff hopes and its chance at continuing its run of 20 straight trips to the postseason. The Spurs (43-32) have lost two straight, most recently 116-106 on the road Tuesday to Washington in a game that was not as close as the final score indicates.”

Around the League: The Grizzlies took down the Blazers last night…. Karl-Anthony Towns dropped 56 points & 15 rebounds…. Kemba Walker became the Hornets’ all-time leading scorer…. LeBron matched MJ’s record of 866 straight games with 10+ points…. Joel Embiid was sent to the hospital after colliding with Markelle Fultz…. LeBron thinks he should be the favorite to win MVP…. Stephen Jackson wouldn’t be surprised of Kawhi Leonard leaves San Antonio.