4 min read

Wednesday Bolts: 4.11.18

ESPN updates the NBA playoff race with much still up in the air: “BPI projects a Thunder-Jazz series as 85.6 percent likely. A lot of that has to do with OKC being a heavy favorite here [vs Memphis]. The Thunder don’t clinch home-court advantage in the first round with a win, but they can’t get it if they lose. Thunder projections: No. 4: 49.6 percent,  No. 6: 36.0 percent, No. 8: 14.4 percent.”

Nick Gallo previews tonight’s regular season finale versus Memphis: “With a win tonight in Chesapeake Energy Arena against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Thunder can move to 48-34 on the season and guarantee itself either the fourth or sixth seed, setting up a date with the Utah Jazz in either situation. If Utah defeats the Portland Trail Blazers tonight, the Thunder will head to Salt Lake City this weekend. If the Jazz lose, Oklahoma City will be getting ready to host the first two games of a first round series. On the other hand, if the Thunder falls to the Grizzlies tonight, it will be guaranteed the eighth spot in the Western Conference, and a matchup with the Houston Rockets.”

Alex Abrines is in the NBA’s concussion protocol and is unlikely to play tonight: “Per the NBA’s Concussion Policy, Abrines will now begin the NBA-mandated Return-to-Participation Protocol. This process includes a series of steps designed to ensure an athlete exhibits symptom-free behavior before resuming basketball activities. There is no predetermined timetable to complete the protocol, as each injury and player is different and recovery time can vary in each case.”

Royce Young on Carmelo Anthony joking about Russ stealing rebounds: “It appeared a long shot for Westbrook to make up enough ground and average 10 rebounds a game this season, but in four games so far this month he’s averaging 14 a game. Westbrook’s hyperactivity on the glass isn’t anything new, but it has led to his teammates joking about him taking boards from them. “Sometimes you want to fight him a little bit, push him out of the way,” Carmelo Anthony said Tuesday. “For me, it’s good because to have a guard like that to be able to crack back and get rebounds. He steals sometimes. He steals rebounds sometimes. But any time you can have a guard like that to come back and rebound the way he does, because we want to push the break, when he gets it off the rebound he’s able to jump start the break and a lot of good things happen from that.” Asked about how teammates feel about Westbrook taking rebounds, Anthony laughed and said “he steals, oh he steals,” but said it’s more a joke among the team than anything serious.”

Erik Horne on what it would mean for Westbrook to again average a triple-double: “With those 16 rebounds, Westbrook can be the first player to average a triple-double in back-to-back seasons, which is why the points-rebounds-assists feat is back in the national vocabulary as the regular season closes. But what does Westbrook achieving the feat mean a season after pulling it off for the first time in 55 years? Rather than a toppling of Oscar Robertson or clinging to a redemptive thread following Kevin Durant’s departure, this season’s Thunder conversation has centered on a disappointing 47-34 record relative to expectations. Westbrook isn’t close to the MVP conversation, with the award James Harden’s to lose as the Rockets have dominated the league. What Westbrook is doing alongside Anthony and Paul George is no less incredible, but feels that way.”

Fred Katz on Westbrook chasing rebounds and how Michael Cage has been there before: “The message was simple: “28.” That’s all it said on a piece of paper placed inside the locker of Michael Cage. Cage, a member of the L.A. Clippers at the time and now the in-game analyst for the Thunder’s television broadcasts, picked the note out of his home locker and peered at the one number scribbled on it. The Clippers were 17-64 and heading into the 1987-88 regular-season capper against the Seattle SuperSonics. All of the evening’s inspiration came because of two digits. “Still to this day, I don’t know who wrote it,” Cage told The Transcript. But he knew what it meant.”

Jon Hamm (B/R) on the Thunder still believing in its core: “Oklahoma City’s playoff seeding remains unknown heading into Wednesday night’s season finale against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Thunder could still wind up anywhere between fourth and eighth in the West. A victory over the Grizzlies secures no worse than the sixth seed. A loss could drop them as low as No. 8. Regardless of where they land, the Thunder will enter the postseason as a confident team. They finished 6-3 against the Warriors, Raptors and Rockets. That’s the kind of company the team believes it belongs with. On the other hand, Oklahoma City finished the season 20-20 against all other teams .500 or better.”

The AP on Carmelo Anthony accepting his role ahead of the playoffs: “Playing alongside Russell Westbrook and Paul George, Anthony and the Thunder are headed to the playoffs. He is the Thunder’s third-leading scorer, yet at times it feels like he is the fourth option behind center Steven Adams. Anthony isn’t complaining. “Acceptance of what I have to do here and what is needed of me,” Anthony said. “I think the other guys on the team, after they started playing with each other more and more, we started figuring out each other’s game. We figured out what each other brings to the game.”

Around the League: KD will opt out and become an unrestricted free agent/redo his deal with Golden State…. The incredible story of Andre Ingram and his 19-point NBA debut at 32-years-old…. Mike D’Antoni says the playoffs won’t define Houston’s season…. Donovan Mitchell used a hoodie to take a shot at Ben Simmons…. Luc Mbah a Moute dislocated his shoulder in a meaningless game for the Rockets…. The drama/social media posts that defined the NBA’s regular season.