3 min read

Tuesday Bolts – 5.17.16

Tuesday Bolts – 5.17.16

J.A. Adande of ESPN.com: “They’ve matured to the point that Mohammed will admit his


veteran perspective isn’t as needed as it was before, when the Thunder brought in old heads such as himself, Derek Fisher and Caron Butler to add experienced voices in the locker room. Durant and Westbrook can handle that themselves now. In fact, they can even provide guidance to their rookie coach, Billy Donovan, as they go through their fourth conference finals while he experiences his first. Donovan trusted their judgment when it came to second-half playing time. Westbrook told him he needed just a quick breather, so he sat out for four minutes. Durant told Donovan to leave him in the entire third and fourth quarters, confident that he could gather his wind during the extended timeouts.”

Michael Lee of The Vertical: “As Westbrook dribbled out the final seconds of the Game 1 victory, Dion Waiters, a playoff novice, rushed toward him, hands open as he begged for the ball. Westbrook let Waiters have it and stormed off without bothering to high-five anyone. He sped up to Durant, who untucked his jersey and walked off the court, staring down without even cracking a smile. The Thunder had done the unthinkable, winning its third straight road playoff game against two teams that went a combined 79-3 at home in the regular season, but Durant and Westbrook acted as if it were a February win in Milwaukee.”

Anthony Slater: “Postgame, the duo chalked it up to some rushed, uncharacteristic shots. Which there were. At one point, Thompson fired up a 3 from the deep corner, nearly out of bounds, with 20 still on the shot clock and no other teammate on his side of halfcourt. But the Thunder’s defense forced many of Golden State’s misses, switching and swarming and contesting nearly everything, despite staying big against Golden State’s small-ball unit — a concern that was alleviated, at least temporarily, in Game 1.”

My fast reaction story.

Berry Tramel: “Round 1 of this Big vs. Small morality goes to the bigs. The Thunder dominated in the paint; Golden State made fewer than 50 percent of its shots in the lane and was outscored 15-2 on second-chance points. The Thunder wore down the Warriors the longer the game went, and suddenly OKC has emerged as a viable NBA title threat. The Thunder has won three straight road games in the playoffs against teams (Spurs and Warriors) that combined to go 88-3 at home this season.”

And here’s another thing I wrote about the Thunder’s maturity.

Ethan Strauss of ESPN.com: “Ultimately, the Thunder won Game 1 with resolve and late-game defense. They now own home-court advantage in a series where that advantage looms especially large. As for the Warriors, they’ll likely need better performances from their bigs and possibly from an MVP who is still working his way back from a knee injury. The Thunder didn’t steal home court on Monday so much as they steadfastly and eventually earned it.”

Tim Bontemps of the WaPo: “Instead of the chest-thumping and high-fiving that would normally come with this kind of landmark victory — one that wrests away homecourt advantage from a Warriors team that had won 45 of its 47 games here entering Monday night, including all six in the playoffs — the Thunder seemed to treat it like it was just another win. Why? Well, because to Kevin Durant and the Thunder, that’s exactly what it was: just another win.”

Facepalm: Kevin Durant is going to get some EMSA award for literally doing nothing. I hate this story so much.

Patrick Redford of Deadspin: “But Oklahoma City was utterly persistent. If this is the Thunder at their peak, then they’ll never be an aesthetically coherent team. Even when they were pulling away from the Warriors, they did so by getting burly on the glass, and Dion Waiters of all people pushed them over the hump. Enes Kanter got roasted a few times on the perimeter by Steph Curry, but he gave Draymond Green more problems than he was expecting. Kanter embodies the strange effectiveness of the Thunder bench; he is useless at defending in space and should, tactically speaking, represent a huge liability for OKC. But he always earns OKC a few extra points here and there, and he’s still tall and talented enough to give every Warriors big man problems. He shouldn’t play against the death lineup, but he’s not a lemon.”