All thoughts Game 3 related

  • I never thought this was going to be a sweep, despite what the national media is telling you about the disparity in these supporting casts.  That’s a talented team over there, and one with the ability present problems for the Rockets.  The Thunder played basically perfect basketball, and the Rockets still had a chance to win it at the end.  I can live with that.
  • I am perfectly fine with the shot taken by James Harden to close the game.  On the road, with Beverley already fouled out, and Harden himself playing with five fouls, I don’t know that overtime is an endeavor the team would be willing to undertake.  More importantly, with Adams already back, there’s no way Harden would have gotten a call upon inevitably being clobbered.  I’ve seen the Rockets lose far too many games these past few years in that fashion to think that a drive should ever be the play.  A clean look at the ‘3’ was the way to go.
  • Have I mentioned how over Trevor Ariza I am?  I feel guilt when making such a declaration, primarily because he’s meant so much to this team these past few years in its unlikely success.  He’s brought leadership, toughness, and a no-nonsense attitude.  But man, it’s cringe-inducing to watch him drive into a crowd or string together more than even two dribbles.  It looked even worse last night when things were as heavily contested as they were.  Sometimes I like to daydream what this offense would look like with a competent offensive player at that spot.  Not that this offense needs any improvement; except that you can always get better.
  • Nothing makes me want to throw my remote at the television more than when Ryan Anderson passes up open shots.  Even if he’s 0-100.  I feel better about an open Ryan Anderson ‘3’ than maybe any other shot possibility.
  • So what’s the narrative today?  I can see how many in media might be struggling collectively at reconciling their emotions.  Russ got his triple double, but James Harden won the scoring battle.  More importantly, the Thunder’s supposed D-League quality supporting cast showed up in a big way, outplaying Houston’s supposed star-studded cast.  Was it a fluke?  Was it a one-day thing?

in musings

HOUSTON – On Sunday night, Russell Westbrook finished just three assists shy of opening the postseason with yet another triple double.  The expected MVP finished with 22 points (6-23), eleven rebounds, and seven assists [with a -25 in the box score, and nine turnovers], denied of the feat by his cold-shooting Thunder teammates.

Mr. Westbrook’s counterpart, Patrick Beverley, finished the game with 18 points (8/13 shooting), ten rebounds, and three assists.  Westbrook’s counterpart in the MVP race, James Harden, ended with 37 points, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds.

At the half, Westbrook was on pace to achieve the triple double, as he already had accumulated six rebounds and five assists.  By the end of the third, the result still seemed likely, as Westbrook added on four monstrous rebounds (bringing him to ten), and two more assists.  But in the fourth quarter, with his Thunder teammates going cold, Westbrook was unable to add to the assist total in the five minutes he played.  Had he stayed in for the full twelve minutes, perhaps it might have made the difference.

Lifting his Thunder team to the Western Conference’s sixth seed, Westbrook had the greatest individual season in NBA history, breaking Oscar Robertson’s triple double record, and finishing the season as the first player since Robertson in 1961-1962 to average a triple-double for the season.  It was a feat widely heralded as one most observers believed they’d never live to see and one which essentially clinches the MVP award for the Thunder guard.  Many believe that if Westbrook is able to duplicate the effort in the postseason, it would mean a de facto championship for Oklahoma City.

Entering Wednesday’s Game 2 matchup, Westbrook needs just 13 assists to get back on pace to his season’s triple double averages.  The Houston Rockets won game one 118 to 87.

in game coverage

Dekker out, Williams in?

  • Sam Dekker’s season is now over after breaking his hand last night in the Rockets’ win over Phoenix. Dekker achieved redemption in this, his sophomore season, supplanting Donatas Motiejunas’ ghost in Houston’s rotation, cementing himself as Mike D’Antoni’s backup power forward.  His final numbers of 6.3 points per game and 3.6 rebounds, with 32% shooting on 3’s, look rather pedestrian, but his play was cause for encouragement.  Dekker shot 39% on 3’s in November, forcing his way into the lineup and hopefully providing a glimpse of the player he can one day become.  Aside from February when he shot .375 on 3’s, Dekker shot poorly every other month, hopefully just from tired legs.  The season was a success, more in that Dekker proved he was worth the pick the Rockets used in selecting him.  But next year, and going forward, the Rockets will need Dekker to show actual consistency on his outside shot.
  • This may not be too great of a loss as I and others had speculated that Dekker would likely be out of the rotation anyway come playoff time.  For now, or if D’Antoni decides to extend his rotation past the limit he’s historically set, I’d surmise that recently recalled forward Troy Williams will take Dekker’s spot at backup power forward.  Mike D’Antoni has already said that Montrezl Harrell will not be playing the position.  Regarding Williams, I remain cautiously optimistic.  I thought Troy Daniels and K.J. McDaniels too had futures in Houston after the glimpses those players showed, in Daniels’ case in the playoffs.

in musings

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