3 min read

Tuesday Bolts: 4.10.18

Nick Gallo recaps last night’s playoff-clinching win in Miami: “First it was a 12-0 deficit. Then 16-1 and finally 23-5. It was clear from the outset, the Thunder was going to have to earn its playoff berth. Despite missing its first 10 shots with 3 turnovers in the first seven minutes on Monday against the Miami Heat, the Thunder never relented, and scratched its way back into contention in the second quarter. Head Coach Billy Donovan’s team held steady in the third, then erupted in the fourth quarter, outscoring Miami by a margin of 39-12 to seal a 115-93 victory, and the organization’s eighth playoff appearance in the past nine seasons.”

Fred Katz on the Thunder’ second unit sparking the victory: “The Thunder clinched a playoff spot, thanks to a lineup that may never see time during the postseason. With Oklahoma City down 81-76 heading into the fourth, coach Billy Donovan turned to a lineup that didn’t include Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Steven Adams or Carmelo Anthony. He had turned to that type of unit frequently throughout much of the regular season. He just hadn’t played with it lately. Instead, Donovan was using George with reserves at the starts of the second and fourth quarters. Monday’s game, which the Thunder once trailed by as many as 18 and eventually won 115-93, inspired a change for the final period. “We got a real great boost from our second unit,” Donovan said. “They shot the ball well. They moved the ball well. They defended. They rebounded.” Oklahoma City outscored Miami 39-12 during the fourth quarter. It started with the all-bench unit.”

Brett Dawson on Carmelo Anthony being happy to return to the playoffs: “But the Thunder’s 115-93 win against the Heat Monday at AmericanAirlines Arena assured a postseason berth in his first season in Oklahoma City. For the first time since 2013, the future Hall of Famer is bound for playoff basketball. “It feels good, man, kind of just to be back in that postseason mindset,” Anthony said. “Looking forward to not planning vacations. Even though I would love to be with my family, I think they understand that this is very important.”

Fans greeted the Thunder at the airport at 2:30AM in the morning:

ESPN clarifies the playoff race after Monday night’s games: “BPI favorite: Heat (51.9 percent). What happened: Despite trailing 23-5 in the first quarter, the Thunder secured a playoff spot with a win.”

Dan Devine (Yahoo) on Russell Westbrook needing 16 rebounds in the regular season finale to average a triple-double: “Westbrook entered the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Monday night matchup with the Miami Heat averaging 25.3 points per game, seventh-best in the NBA, and having totaled 788 assists and 766 rebounds through 78 appearances this season. Assuming he’d be suiting up for the Thunder’s final two games of the season to hit an even 80 games played — a reasonable wager, considering he’s healthy and OKC still hadn’t yet clinched a playoff berth in the crowded and chaotic Western Conference — that meant he needed 12 more assists and 34 more rebounds over the final two games to get to 10 dimes and 10 boards per game for the season. By night’s end, he was more than halfway there.”

Andy Newberry (Times Record) on the Warriors as OKC’s best first round match-up: “The Thunder weren’t built to beat Houston or Golden State in the regular season, the roster just isn’t that deep. But they hoped to have a puncher’s chance in the playoffs. It may not be a great chance, but if I’m OKC I’m hoping that Golden State is my first-round draw. No better time to catch the Warriors and make a statement to free agent Paul George that this is what he can expect every April and May in OKC.”

ESPN has OKC 12th in its latest power rankings: “Russell Westbrook is chasing a triple-double average once again, but the Thunder have bigger concerns. Clinching a playoff berth is one thing, but making a compelling run is another. Last season, the Thunder ranked favorably during clutch time, finishing top-10 in plus-minus (second), 3-point percentage (seventh) and overall field goal percentage (ninth). This season? OKC is 19th in clutch-time plus-minus and ranks 22nd in both 3-point and overall field goal percentage.”

Steven Ruiz (The Big Lead) on Lakers players hilariously trying to avoid Paul George tampering issues while playing Fortnite: “Fortnite, and similar video games, might be the best thing to happen to the NBA in years. Without the multiplayer survivor game, we wouldn’t get interactions like this. Here we have Lakers players Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma playing Fortnite with former Laker Larry Nance Jr. and Hornets big man Frank Kaminksy. Kuzma, who is clearly a troublemaker, uses some unsavory language (some may even call it NSFW) which leads to some quasi-tampering by the Lakers players.”

Around the League: Predicting the NBA awards…. The Spurs are playoff-bound for the 21st consecutive season…. Kendrick Perkins will sign with the Cavs for the playoffs…. The T-Wolves and Nuggets will play for a chance to go to the playoffs…. How fatigue shaped the NBA season…. Awaiting the arrival of Luka Doncic…. How the Jazz turned their season around.