3 min read

Wednesday Bolts – 5.15.13

Wednesday Bolts – 5.15.13

Zach Lowe of Grantland: “Durant has cemented his late-game chops already. He has ranked among the league’s most efficient high-volume crunch-time scorers over the last few seasons, and even in a somewhat down “clutch” season this year, he still shot an acceptable 39 percent in the last three minutes of close games, drilled his foul shots, and collected a bunch of very important baskets — including the game-winning bucket in Game 1 of this series, the basket that set up that shot, and (in last season’s playoffs) a million midrange jumpers that still make people in San Antonio nauseated. The guy has both embraced the big moments and worked effectively during them, and it has been good to see the commentariat mostly shrug at his half-dozen big misses with a collective “I guess it happens to everyone.” After all, Marc Gasol, the world’s newest playoff hero, missed two free throws in the clutch last night.”

Darnell Mayberry: “The most worrisome part of it all is that the Grizzlies’ defense on Durant doesn’t appear to be a fluke. Not only has Durant been ineffective down the stretch for three straight games, but he also turned in a similarly stale performance in the same situation back in the final regular-season contest against the Grizzlies. OKC lost by one in overtime on March 20 in large part because Durant in the fourth quarter and overtime scored just seven points on 3-for-10 shooting with two assists. Two months later, history is repeating itself. And without Westbrook around to alleviate some pressure, the Grizzlies’ late-game defense on Durant has become the Thunder’s latest and greatest problem.”

Berry Tramel on missing Harden: “Martin hasn’t been a bad Harden. But Martin is no Westbrook, in terms of production or anything else. The genius of Harden’s game is that he was a pristine role player who could rise to star status, as he occasionally did with the Thunder and absolutely he did once given his own stage. If the Beard still veered through Thunder Alley, it’s easy to see him rising up into the Westbrook role. Not with the same style, necessarily, or maybe even the same production. But close. As we saw in Houston when Harden went from third wheel to first.”

THTV talking Thunder-Grizzlies.

Andrew Gilman of Fox Sports Southwest: “What if Durant didn’t feel the need to say he could do more, or what if Durant didn’t try to take it all upon himself? What if the rest of the Thunder players, brought in to be complementary pieces to Durant and Westbrook played better in the playoffs, not inconsistently, or worse? Yeah, what if. Instead, Memphis with all its pieces is ahead of Oklahoma City 3-1 and the Thunder are down a pair of game and questioning about everything the way this season has played out.”

Breaking down KD’s missed in Game 4.

Tramel again, this time on Reggie Jackson: “And while I have no illusions that Jackson will turn into an all-star caliber player, like Harden did, I’m also not counting out Jackson for being the same kind of productive sixth man that Harden was. Here’s an example. Here are the stats for Harden’s first playoffs, the 2010 series against the Lakers, when Harden was a 20-year-old swingman growing into the sixth man role. And the stats for Jackson’s first playoffs, the 2013 serieses against the Rockets and Grizzlies, when Jackson is a 23-year-old thrust into the pressure of replacing Westbrook.”

Kelly Dwyer of BDL: “The Thunder has enough to work their way towards a Game 7 in Oklahoma City. Memphis still struggles to score, the referee calls (which were iffy for both teams tonight, despite a veteran crew) could go either way, and Durant’s brilliance could heal all wounds. Wounding all heels from a visiting Memphis group of bashers that would be looking for the series-deciding upset. This is what happens when a superstar like Russell Westbrook goes down, though. And even if Kevin Durant is more than enough to build a team around, superstars aren’t easily replaceable. Especially in May.”