Week in Review: What Could Have Been
I can’t imagine a better way to start this Week in Review than with Nick Collison’s ferocious throw-down against the Phoenix Suns.
Nurkic Takes Down Adams
How is this a common foul? How?
Late in the third quarter against Phoenix, Terrance Ferguson chased his defender into the paint and bashed heads with Steven Adams. Ferguson immediately hit the floor, with Adams motioning for the Thunder’s medical trainer. It was a terrifying moment, but fortunately, Ferguson left the court under his own power. He is now in the league’s concussion protocol, so he may miss some time as his condition is evaluated.
As for Adams, how did the collision not even phase him?
The Rest of the Season
The Thunder currently sits in seventh place in the rugged Western Conference, two games behind the third-seeded Trail Blazers and two games up on the 10th place Jazz. With 12 of the final 15 games against teams currently holding a playoff spot, the Thunder’s playoff odds are declining rapidly. Teams that the Thunder was once safely in front of — the Pelicans and Trail Blazers, are now red hot. Worse, the Timberwolves, Blazers, or Pelicans all own the tiebreaker over OKC, and the Spurs could wrestle another tiebreaker away by sweeping the final two matchups.
To make the playoffs, the Thunder likely needs to win at least 45 games. That means the OKC needs to beat Sacramento, Atlanta, and Memphis and then find a way to win three of 12 games against playoff teams, a doable task, but by no means a guarantee.
Carl Albert High School’s “Moment”
Paul George made a surprise visit to Carl Albert High School on Wednesday afternoon, showing up for the school’s pre-state tournament pep rally. While there, George presented each member of the boys and girls basketball teams with a pair of his signature shoe, the PG2, in “The Moment” colorway.
When asked why, George said, “This city, this community, this state has welcomed me, has taken me in with open arms. That’s all I want to do is return the love, return the favor.”
In a season marred by disappointment, things like this a nice reminder of the positive impact the team and its players can have even if the record isn’t what was expected. The Thunder and its players have always done an incredible job of being community-focused, and George’s gesture is yet another impact made to Oklahoma City.
Look Out, Lillard
And one more makes seven…
What Was, What Could Have Been, and What Is
At one point, the Thunder had Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and James Harden on the roster — two MVP winners and a potential MVP winner. After the shocking trade of Harden to the Rockets, the Thunder mostly managed to stay just as competitive, most recently coming within a quarter of returning to the NBA Finals in 2016.
But with the departure of Durant after that fateful loss, Sam Presti and the Thunder are mostly responsible for the lopsided Western Conference. Both Harden and Durant have flourished in their new cities — Durant won a championship and was Finals MVP last season, and Harden is leading the league’s best team (by record) and is one of two strong contenders for the MVP award this season (the other being Lebron James).
And the Thunder, well, let’s just say its seen better days. With the Thunder struggling, it’s all the more painful seeing two former players leading the two best teams in the league. It’s hard wondering what if, and the Thunder’s loss to the Rockets, a game in which Harden had 23 points and 11 assists, was a stern reminder of what is.
Unfortunately, with the Thunder sitting precariously on the edge of the playoff bubble, it’s becoming increasingly likely that even if OKC makes the playoffs, the Thunder is in line for an even harsher reminder of what likely will be — a probable first-round exit at the hands of either the Durant-led Warriors or the Harden-led Rockets.