The Second Season. The Playoffs. Go big or go home. This is what they play for...
We can say it 15 different ways, and remain just as excited, nervous, scared, or depressed about it.
I spent the last two games on the edge of my seat...on the edge of a knife, slowly accepting the fate of a playoff run aborted. Culminating in a partial self banishment as I watched the Thunder drizzle through game 5.
Thank you Beverley.
I've said those words probably a hundred times in the last week, out of the blue, for no reason.
I don't hate the kid, he was making an aggressive play, trying to have an impact.
Unfortunately, he had an impact. I'm not gonna judge him anymore...unless I change my mind.
So, as we process the post-Westbrook Thunder NBA Playoff run of 2013, here are some thoughts.
- Danny Lee was injured. Changed the Warriors...unpredictable. They responded.
- Danilo Gallinari, gone for the season. Warriors responded. Denver, responded a bit, but like the Thunder, they were stunned, still are, and they are done.
- Bulls lose Hinrich and Deng, and without Rose, are still fighting.
- The season is unpredictable.
- It is still unpredictable.
I've heard many people, including myself discuss the Thunder's ability to get through Rounds 1 and possibly 2, but with no real potential for threatening the Conference Title or beating the Heat without Russell Westbrook.
I have awoken this morning with a different perspective. Perhaps, it will help.
In our unpredictable post-season play, we have been very predictable in our assumptions. We assume the Heat will win, we assume the Thunder will struggle in the next two rounds...all of which COULD HAPPEN, but we, of all fan bases should learn not to count our free-throws until the net whips.
There are no guarantees, for any team. We need to remember that. As to why the Thunder can't still make it to the Finals, and potentially win... why not?
Well, because the other teams are good. This is true, but in an unpredictable game, you can't give up just because other teams are good and you've sustained a major blow due to injury.
If Russell can take a hip check and be gone...one of the toughest players we've seen, with the longest consecutive playing streak...anything can happen.
So, as we look at our Thunder and our frustration with our lack of offensive efficiency and our defensive concerns...I'll point out the following...take it for what it is, I'm not even looking at stats this time.
- Scott Brooks needs to give his team confidence, from himself. No more, "just get out there and try hard", but more like "we're going to stop them like this, and we're going to score like this...and if that doesn't work, we're going to do this"...specific coaching and leadership. The team must know that he's got it in his head at a detail level and that he's leading them.
-KD first things first. On offense, do not create until you have to... you have so many shots in your bag of tricks. Every time, first time, see what they are giving you. Game 3, KD got 21 in the first half, if you re-watch it, he simply took what they gave him...which was 5-6 17 footers in a 2 dribble pull up. FACT: Nobody in the league, much less the Rockets can defend two hard dribbles to the bucket and a pullup from Durant. If they can't stop Russell, who's a foot shorter, then KEVIN, hit that sh*t all damn day. We don't need dunks and don't need passes if they give you a 80% shot you can hit.
-KD step II: install a point guard floater. One step into the lane, jump straight up and float it in...again, only Hasheem Thabeet is tall enough to go get that, and he's on your team.
- KD step III: passing, do it when you have to. I don't need you to have confidence in KMart to finally hit one when he's 0 for 9 when you could do one or two of the previously mentioned moves.
-Everybody else: just play ball. Don't over-pass, it is cool to look like the Spurs, but Martin, you need to shoot it when you catch it in rhythm. Twice the other night you caught the outer swing pass in shooting rhythm, but passed to someone more open than you. Stop it. Shoot the damn ball in rhythm.
- Fisher: I know, I know, he's the DFish, loved, hated, decrepit, no defense... stop feeling about Derek Fisher and just realize he's not a super star, he's just a dude that has rings and experience. Experience that appeared to help us stay in a game we were desperately trying to lose. I don't know if anyone noticed, and there weren't any box scores here, so yes, I'm preaching intangibles...Reggie got frustrated in the 3rd, then got tired...missed two shots, and threw the ball away in a 4 trip sequence...Fish took the ball and walked it up. He just gave Reggie a break. He didn't score, he didn't turn it over, he didn't save the day...he gave our point guard an on-court breather to calm down. That's why he earns a paycheck. That and the fact that he actually watches the shot clock and yes will jack up a 55 footer when it hits 2...unlike his team mates the other night who just passed on more time and let the buzzer sound. He's not magic, but he's what we've got. I wish we had Chauncy Billups too, but he didn't call with a low ball contract amount and say that he loves our team and wanted to be a part of it.
- Serge: I've checked your HR records, you have no sick days, and no personal days...so you cannot take anymore days off...offensively or defensively.
- Perk: Enjoy the first 5 minutes of each half, we've reached the part of the season where most fans think you should be wearing a suit on the sidelines, because they think Orton's a better choice than you. Just do what you do...and keep Serge's head on straight.
Here we go into the wild blue yonder...I hope the Rockets learn a few things tonight about resiliency...courtesy of the Rumble's Rowdies.