March 29, 2016, 1:20 pm
The Thunder are making noise, a KAT is on the loose, it’s raining threes, Twitter is causing an uproar and defense is porous. It sounds like the end of the NBA regular season. Let’s see what all of the buzz is about in this week’s edition of my Starting Five:
We think the Warriors could be the best team in NBA history. We think that the Spurs are a well-oiled machine who is unbeatable at home. It’s clear– the West will go to one of these teams right?
The forecast is cloudier than that. These teams should fear the Thunder.
Oklahoma City is the proud home of two MVP-level talents in Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. How many teams can legitimately say that? Chris Paul and Blake Griffin— no. LeBron James and either Kyrie Irving or Kevin Love— no. Only one team and that’s the Thunder.
The Thunder are red hot after having won eight straight including seven against teams that are currently in the playoffs. Westbrook is having a monstrous season by doing his best Oscar Robertson impression with 15 triple-doubles on the season, which is the most in a season since Michael Jordan in his 1988-89 campaign.
The competitiveness and fire is apparent in every Westbrook “Thunder-dunk”.
Durant is a couple of free throws and threes away from his 2nd 50-40-90 season. He has taken on more responsibility this season by being the de facto Point Guard when Westbrook is on the bench.
Billy Donovan has made it a point to run the offense through either of his stars. No combination of players in the NBA account for a higher percent of their team’s touches in the NBA.
The first-year NBA coach seems to have figured out the rigors that come with transitioning to the NBA and has his team in position for a three seed and a date with the Spurs in the second round of the playoffs. Will they be able to beat San Antonio? They are 2-1 against them this season, although one win came when the Spurs played without LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. With KD and Westbrook, there is always a chance.
We all want to see another overtime game vs. the Warriors. If they play the Warriors, could they win? We have yet to see OKC take down the defending champions this season. They came close twice and were blown out the third time. If the Warriors were to see Andrew Bogut, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes or Stephen Curry go down, then OKC has a shot. Without that the odds are slim.
The Thunder’s lack of a reliable Shooting Guard allows the Warriors to rest Curry on defense from time-to-time. Covering Westbrook could tire out the Chef, but having him rested keeps the kitchen open longer which spells bad news for OKC.
For now, there’s a chance– but it’s slim.