May 9, 2014

Fightin' Words: OKC will manage LA better than Grizz


Now that the Memphis mess is over, it's time to get down to business.

That's how it feels with the Thunder right now. The Grizzlies were like a night of severe storms. One after the other, downpour after downpour came to rain on the Thunder parade. 

Thankfully, OKC realized that's not how you treat a playoff series against anyone. There is no expecting for things to just clear up and take care of themselves. You've got to seize the moment, and that's exactly what they'll do against the Clippers.

The signs are already there. Newly crowned MVP Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were both at one point an assist away from a triple-double on Wednesday night against LA, the latter ultimately scoring that prize. We shouldn't get used to that. After all, two of those in a playoff game has never happened in NBA history.

But it's a sign those two players, too often singled out as competing forces rather than contributory factors in a win, are finding the rhythm they need to work in tandem. That's bad news for any team to face Oklahoma City right now.

On top of that, the rest of the squad is following in suit. Like a horse held back, Thabo Sefolosha let everything go last night, with 14 points trumping his season average of just 5.1 per game. 

It was so unlike the Memphis series, where the Thunder relied on their dynamic duo of Durant and Westbrook far too much. The Grizzlies exploited this, keying on Durant while allowing the often misfiring front court a bit more freedom in which to do little. 

To win in seven games, you need the fringe players to step up. Thabo, Caron Butler, Serge Ibaka, they all need to prepare to have a solid night to overcome a Clippers team with five players averaging double-digits this season. The Thunder barely has four doing the same, and one of those, Reggie Jackson, tends to be overshadowed by the formidable Westbrook in front of him.

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