By Art Stevens
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. San Antonio Spurs:
If the Thunder comes back and wins the series, they would be only the 15th team in NBA history to come back from 2-0 down.
I knew from the get-go how good Kevin Durant was. Very close to LeBron overall, but if he can stay hot, I think the Thunder DO can come back.
The Thunder defense held Parker to twelve points in the 4th game. This is Parker’s team now, no longer Duncan’s. If the Thunder can bottle up Parker, I think that’s all she wrote.
Can’t say enough about Serge Ibaka’s performance in game four. He’s better known for his defense, having led the league in blocked shots. He had 26 points, eleven of eleven from the field, and four of four from the line. He had jump shots mostly from fifteen feet or more. If the Spurs tighten up on defending him, does that give Durant a little more room to roam?
How about Westbrook and Harden? A dozen assists between the two of them, and of course Perkins with 15 points.
Durant was there when the Thunder really needed him in game four. He scored 28 of his 36 points in the second half, including 16 consecutive points in the fourth period. He sure knows how to finish.
In game 4, the Thunder was 56 percent from the field and out-rebounded the Spurs 41 to 31.
MANU GINOBILI: “When a player that talented gets hot, it’s really hard to contain. Their bigs were making every shot.”
Manu Ginobili with six turnovers? That sure didn’t help the Spurs’s cause. Very un-Ginobili-like.
GREG POPOVICH: Spoke to reporters after game four. Didn’t like a question- walked away, saying he was more concerned about “Trying to figure out how to guard Kevin Durant.”
We tried to do a couple of different things, but his play was better than anything we did defensively, that’s for sure. He finished it off in fine fashion.”
KEVIN DURANT: “We were passing the ball and guys were making shots. I just wanted to stick with what we were doing, but it started to open up for me, and I could see some lanes that gave me some opportunities to make some shots. We’ve just got to keep believing, man.”
This Thunder team has tremendous ability. Can they use it on a consistent basis? Therein lies the answer to the outcome of this series. I’m not a betting man, but I think they can, and will, come back and take the series.
Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat:
Great, balanced scoring from the Celtics in game three. Kevin Garnet with 24 points (and 11 rebounds), Rajon Rondo with 21 points (and 10 assists) and Paul Pierce with 23 points.
Chris Bosh remains out indefinitely according to Coach Erik Spoelstra.
Celtics controlled the boards in game 3, out-rebounding the Heat, 44-32.
Shane Battier left a great void in game 3, going scoreless in 38 minutes as opposed to his key three pointers in the first two games.
How about Garnett in the second quarter? After taking a hard foul, doing eight pushups before getting up, and the roar of approval from the crowd.
LeBron was great early on. He hit seven of his first nine shots, and scored 16 of the Heat’s 28 first quarter points, but he’s not going to be able to do it all by himself.
DOC RIVERS: “The difference was our defensive energy, which allowed us to run. We ran in the space.”
LEBRON JAMES: “We can’t dig that big a hole for ourselves. We were down by 24 points. When you start fighting uphill, any little mistake hurts because you’re trying to fight back the whole time.”
RAJON RONDO: “Not just scoring, Kevin does all the little things. He does all the intangibles defensibly. He’s our best help defender, our best communicator. I can go on and on.”