Image courtesy of William Bennett Berry.
Hello Thunder fans! It’s been another week of meh as the Thunder trudge towards the playoffs. Just as it seemed they were finally headed towards former glory, they dropped a winnable game against the Timberwolves in Minnesota. Fortunately for us, the quest to be best in the West is far from over. A home game against the Spurs tomorrow could decide it all, pending matches later in the week. But, regardless of the result of tomorrow’s game, the Thunder are definitely going into the playoffs.
Big Blue is currently one game back of the first place Spurs with 8 games left to go in the regular season. Barring an absolute collapse, they’re safely ahead of the Nuggets, who are in third. That means they’ll face whoever ends up in 7th or 8th place in the Western Conference. Currently, there’s 5 teams eligible for those positions. Let’s take a quick look at them.
6. The Golden State Warriors
Games Back of 6th: 0
Thunder Leading Season Series 2-1
Will We Face Them? Maybe. The Warriors had a pretty bad streak throughout February and March, but they’ve recently regained their stride. They’ve got a couple of tough tests in their last few games, but if they continue their current rate of winning, they should be able to hold onto the seed.
Do We Want to Face Them? Kinda. The Thunder have a nice matchup advantage against this team, because they like to isolate a lot and struggle to score. But the Warriors are, when healthy, a very talented team that can run with the Thunder defensively and control the boards. Their offense isn’t arguably as talented, but they’re good at exploiting mismatches and getting in position to score. They probably couldn’t win a 7 game series in most instances, but the Thunder should hope they can avoid a tough test from Golden State.
This week, the Thunder have recovered a bit from their back to back losses in Denver and Memphis by stampeding over the lowly Magic and Trail Blazers. Still, one problem remains paramount on everybody’s minds.
WHY IN SAM HILL ARE WE PLAYING SO MUCH DEREK FISHER?
The dude has missed his last 14 straight shots, has ceased to become a part of effective ball movement, and is a gigantic defensive liability. To be fair, I wrote a post over on Welcome to Loud City stating the ways you could and should use Derek Fisher. But, I’d still rather have anybody not named Daniel Orton playing ahead of him on this roster right now.
So, since Scott Brooks is paid hundreds of thousands of dollars more than you or I, let’s get inside his brain. I’ll list off all the reasons Scott Brooks insists on playing the Fish the isn’t saving anybody.
When recently asked about why he was playing Derek Fisher, other than intangibles, Scott Brooks responded with intangibles and experience. Experience is great and all, but there’s other guys on the Earth right now who could provide better experience at the backup guard spot. Ever heard of a guy named Bob Pettit, who’s currently a free agent?? He scored close to 30 points per game and consistently averaged more than 16 rebounds, leading the St. Louis Hawks to several division titles. So what if he’s 80? He’s got experience. That’s something you can’t get at the store.
After doing nothing but watch basketball over the last weekend, I pretty much hate the sport right now. I want to think about basically anything else. But my mind doesn’t work that way.
The low point of my weekend was on the first day. After spending three years waiting for my alma mater to return to the NCAA tournament, I’m going to have to wait a minimum of another twelve months to see them play in the tournament. From the tipoff, the Oklahoma State Cowboys were putrid. It started with the team’s leading scorer turning the ball over, leading to an easy basket, then the same player failing to successfully inbound the ball despite zero defensive pressure. Things did not improve much from there.
Getting bounced in the opening round in the first ever match up of ranked teams in the tournament’s first day was not necessarily unexpected. However, it did hurt that this was the final image I would have of Marcus Smart’s time with OSU.
This is the part where deluded Oklahoma State fans remind me that the college Freshman of the Year and Naismith Award finalist has not declared for the NBA draft yet. He could still come back for another season in Stillwater and make a run at a championship with his dwarf best friend and midget coach at his side. I have been getting this a lot in the past week.
“If he leaves, I’m going to call him Marcus Dumb,” my mother-in-law and fellow alumnus informed me because people of that generation think saying such things are witty. Meanwhile, a NewsOK poll of whether Smart–projected as a lock for being one of the first five players selected in the draft and a very possibly the first guy taken–will leave school early barely registered in favor of starting his lucrative career (52%-48%). The comments were predictably questioned his moral character for considering his own best interest instead of that of the Oklahoma State University men’s basketball program.
No one has appreciated the resurrection job Marcus Smart did for OSU basketball more than me. I attended the school when Eddie Sutton reigned supreme and mourned the ever worsening product that current head coach Travis Ford kept putting on the floor. It got so bad in their sub-.500 season from last year, that I stopped even watching the games on television. Smart instantly changed the culture. Only 18 year old, the kid brought an old man game to Gallagher-Iba Arena. He was steady where the rest of the players tended toward erratic and made the big plays when they were needed. His back flip to celebrate the upset victory in Lawrence belongs in the pantheon of big sports moments for the school.
Yet, if Marcus Smart wears the orange and black of Oklahoma State next year, I will be disappointed.
These are the reasons people think he should come back, and why they are dumb:
If Serge Ibaka seems kind of cocky, you really can’t blame him. He’s an elite athlete, multi-millionaire and is dating a hot, chart-topping singer. Plus, there’s, uhm, this:
The girl pictured with Russell Westbrook is his long time girlfriend Nina Earl. She’s a former basketball player at UCLA, (I think) a medical student, and from all accounts, a very nice girl.
I’m posting that photo because gossip blogger Jacky Jasper from the website “Diary of a Hollywood Street King” recently outed Russell Westbrook as bi-sexual. The source of Jacky’s information was the always reliable “anonymous” source:
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