- Beckley Mason, NBA
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How has the Thunder's offense been so great in the postseason? ESPN's John Hollinger (Insider) says there are a few factors, but none bigger than the simple fact that the Thunder are getting more shots (and he has a nifty chart to prove it): "The Oklahoma City perimeter players all have sharply cut their turnover rates. The numbers for the bigs haven't changed much, suggesting that illegal screening is as in vogue as ever, but that the types of errors Collison referenced -- live-ball turnovers resulting from bad spacing -- have been wrung from the system. Some of the changes are astonishing -- Daequan Cook has no turnovers in 101 minutes, Thabo Sefolosha and Derek Fisher have rates less than half of their regular-season totals, and Kevin Durant, for a high-usage scorer, has been a rare turnover victim as well. But first among equals has to be Russell Westbrook. Much maligned for his playoff performance a year ago -- unfairly, I would argue -- Westbrook's ability to get the Thunder into their offense without coughing it up has been the biggest factor in the team's offensive explosion this postseason."
Revealing thoughts from Dwyane Wade about the way his body has slowed down since he won a title in 2006.
ClipperBlog's Jovan Buha on Nick Young, AKA Swaggy P: "Certain players, such as Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and LeBron James, have recently caught media attention for the way they’ve dressed during these playoffs. But those guys are All-Stars and superstars, making tens of millions of dollars per year, with a notable brands and hundreds of thousands of people paying close attention to their every move. Young? He’s not as well-known, doesn’t make as much money, and doesn’t get as much attention for what he does. Yet he still spends just as much money, if not more, and puts genuine effort into his image even if only a few thousand Clipper and Wizard fans care. Your true character is what you do when no one’s looking. With Young, it’s clear that he doesn’t dress up for the cameras or reaction from the public. He does it for himself. And that’s swag."
A big question for every game in this series: Who wins the "confusion points"?
In case you missed it: A great video of Cole Aldrich and Reggie Jackson explaining the intricate rules of belonging to OKC's "Gum Gang."
Miami's mayor, Carlos Gimenez, better hope the Heat win. Otherwise he's on the hook to serve up some illegal crab.
Remember when the Heat were going to limit LeBron James' minutes to conserve his energy for the Finals? Things haven't gone according to plan, writes Brian Windhorst: "But during the playoffs that plan has fallen apart. Spoelstra has moved Battier into the starting lineup alongside James because of an injury to Chris Bosh. Miller has suffered another rash of injuries to his ankle, core and back, which has forced Spoelstra to scale Miller’s minutes back significantly. And [James] Jones basically has been out of the rotation for much of the season. Also, because the Heat do not play a traditional center, James has been pressed into service playing extended minutes at power forward and even center. Add it all together and the Heat’s bench again has become short and James is back to playing the massive load that he did in last season’s Finals."
You know that thing Shane Battier does, where he defends by putting his hand over the shooter's face, rather than the ball? It's annoying as hell, according to Kevin Durant, and, as Heat Index's Tom Haberstroh reports, it really works: "Here in the playoffs, Battier has guarded 59 shots of the spot-up variety, according to SynergySports, a video-tracking service used by NBA teams. Among players this postseason with at least 40 defended spot-up shots, Battier has allowed the fewest number of points on a per-play basis. His opponent is shooting just 30 percent on those tries. Durant, so far, has contributed three misses and no makes."
Word that the Charlotte Bobcats are exploring deals for the No. 2 pick and have an eye on James Harden. I'm thinking the Thunder, who will have to break the bank to pay all their young stars, will start getting a lot of offers for Mr. Harden.
Kevin Arnovitz and Draft Express's Jonathan Givony are on HoopSpeak Live today to talk about the finals and the upcoming draft.