Hack-Asik Says Thunder Not Contenders

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HANG TIME, Texas – There’s little debate that Oklahoma City’s chances of holding a victory parade in June took a hit the moment it was announced that Russell Westbrook would be on an operating table instead of in the starting lineup for Game 3.

But there is no question at all when the Thunder ceased to be championship contenders in 2013.

There was exactly 5:51 left on the clock in the fourth quarter of Game 5 when Serge Ibaka ran up and clamped a hungry bear hug on Omer Asik.

It was that split second when Thunder coach Scott Brooks went to Hack-Asik and announced to the world that his club doesn’t have the stuff to go the distance through four rounds of the playoffs.

It smelled of gimmick and positively reeked of desperation for the No. 1 seed in the West against the No. 8 seed that approaches every game with a style and an attitude that is more Shirts v. Skins than the playoff wars.

Here were the mighty Thunder, virtually without an offensive clue that wasn’t named Kevin Durant, admitting that they had run out of bullets and ideas.

Never mind that over the course of the next 3 1/2 minutes Asik stepped up to the line and knocked down 8-for-11 free throws. It wasn’t simply the result that allowed the Rockets to get out with a 107-97 win that cut OKC’s lead in the series down to a scary 3-2 that made a statement. The real message delivered is that it’s only the first round of the playoffs and the Thunder already are out of answers.

Intentionally fouling a 56.8 percent free-throw shooter is legal and has proven through the years to be occasionally effective against the likes of Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard. But in this case, it was a Brooks waving a white flag.

What we have seen now in the three games without Westbrook is one thing we knew and another that we suspected: 1) there is very little anyone can do to stop Durant from getting his looks and getting his points; 2) the rest of the OKC roster is more of a crapshoot than a back alley dice game.

Durant finished with 36 points and poured in 18 in the third quarter, but was held scoreless in the fourth. Until Reggie Jackson tossed in a handful of buckets when the Rockets were holding them at arm’s length, the Thunder didn’t really have a second offensive option. Ibaka mixed drop-off dunks with thoughtless jumpers, Kevin Martin was a why-bother 1-for-10, Thabo Sefolosha scored just nine points, Derek Fisher eight, Nick Collison six and Kendrick Perkins two.

The idea that the Thunder can survive with Durant playing point forward and distributing the ball from the top of the offense only is valid if his teammates can consistently make shots. And they can’t.

Funny isn’t it, how all of the howling about Westbrook’s wild and crazy game and penchant for mind-altering shot selection has suddenly become as quiet as the so-called Loud City itself?

Even if the Thunder can pick themselves up off the floor and get past the Rockets — and history says they will — there can be no strong belief that OKC can keep trotting the same “KD-and-a-prayer” attack with success as the competition level gets stronger.

If that wasn’t apparent before, it came clearly into focus with 5:51 left in the game when Ibaka wrapped up Asik.

It was the moment the Thunder ran out of real answers and stopped being a 2013 championship contender.

216 Comments

  1. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    The interesting positive that could come out of this … Westbrook sometimes gets criticized for taking too many shots.

    Well, now we definitely don’t have to worry about that sort of thing. Westbrook is awesome, but now Durant can take as many shots as needed. Meanwhile, other Thunder players have stepped up as well to fill the void.

    Durant is averaging close to 35 PPG, getting more rebounds, and stepping it up defensively.

    Durant will lead the Thunder back to the Finals.

    ANYONE who thinks differently … may need to seriously reconsider. Durant is the best scorer we’ve seen since Michael Jordan.

  2. HMH says:

    Kevin Martin had one bad game. Big deal.

  3. wyl says:

    SAS wins it all…enuff said

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      Golden State is currently ON FIRE. If this keeps up, SAS will lose to the Warriors and face the OKC Thunder.

  4. TORONTODRAFTPICK says:

    okc has no chance on winning the championship without westbrook. but they lack offense without westbrook i wish they use jeremy lamb rather tha using deandre liggins…. next year they are gonna be better with that toronto draft pick

  5. mikelowry 3124 says:

    lets be honest okc was never going to win a ring anyway this year . they have to change their style of play in order to beat the heat. Not having westbrook is good for durant this experience will be valuable for him and in the off season he will add things to his game. he will see that now he has to learn how to control a game on both ends of the floor in order be a champion. West brook is a rare talent and so is durant but they will never win a ring with that style of play. Name a team that won a championship with its second best player being the more dominat figure on the team. Kevin durant is the superstar but the team belongs to westbrook and that why you see the team not responding to kevin durant in the last three games..

  6. Gary Payton says:

    OKC the timer went off, time to take it out of the oven…

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      You better REALLY be Gary Payton!!

      Otherwise stop claiming to be Gary Payton!!

  7. Hardy Fan says:

    Hardy beat OKC in Game 6 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Hardy Fan says:

    Hardy beat the OKC in Game 6 !!!

  9. 2K13 says:

    OKC is nothing WITHOUT WESTBROOK.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      Hmmm. Last time I checked they still have their #1 option and MVP-runner-up Kevin Durant.

  10. 2K13 says:

    OKC shouldn’t trade Eric Manyor.
    What did they get? 2 million.
    Is it useful now?

  11. 2K13 says:

    OKC will NEVER get to the finals without Westbrook.
    He can score fast break points and without him, there will be no powerful guard in the team.

    You can hack Asik, like other teams hacking Dwight, but who can guard Harden?
    Just look at the last two games. Is hacking Asik useful?

    Smart teams will now focus on guarding Durant’s teammates.

    Westbrook is the thunder. The point.

    No rings for OKC.

    The Spurs are lucky.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      The West Conf. Finals could wind up being: Golden State Warriors vs. OKC Thunder.

      Spurs were lucky to get a non-playoff-caliber team like the Lakers in the first round, but now they must face a true playoff team in the Warriors.

      And with David Lee injured, it looks like the Thunder will defeat the Warriors and have another chance to win it all in the 2013 NBA Finals.

      If anyone really believes the Spurs, Warriors, or Grizzlies can defeat the #1 seeded Thunder in a 7-game series may need to rethink. Kevin Durant will lead the Thunder back to the Finals. Can anyone really imagine that not happening?

  12. jesus says:

    The Thunder couldnt make the finals if they had me and Chuck Norris starting backcourt

  13. With Westbrook, OKC can score off the fast break, and push the ball up the court. Without him, and no real, fast point guard, they just can’t generate enough easy baskets. I think they’re enough to get past Houston, but not much further. They are now a jump-shooting team, who mostly stand around and watch Durant in isolation.

    While I’ve never been crazy about Westbrook’s shooting as often as he does, his speed gives OKC an edge against teams like the Spurs. Now, smart teams will let Durant have his 35 points, and focus on shutting down everyone else.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      Reggie Jackson is very fast. Not as fast as Westbrook but he can score in fast breaks or drive past people to push the ball up the court.

  14. Big Al says:

    A Westbrook-Curry trade may also be a good idea. The Warriors need a leader and Russell is dying to be one. Then Steph can work more soundly with Durant as he won’t try to be a hero at the wrong times. I think it’s a win-win.

  15. Truth says:

    lol. when were the thunder ever championship contenders? The Heat are on a whole other level than the rest of the teams in the nba…

    • realist2013 says:

      Considering they didnt dominate the Bucks. The Heat are more intimidating to the weak than amything. I like Lebron and Wade but seriously I wont crown them back to back champs just yet. The sports center images dont cloud what my own eyes see in games they should dominate on paper vs what actually happens. Should they get out of the east the Spurs are the favorite in my book. The heat dont fair well vs strong point guards or teams with good front lines which the spurs have both. Im a Rockets fan so Im just calling it how I see it. Enjoying the playoffs and hope you all are too.

      • HEATFANSINCEWADE says:

        I guess beating a team 4-0(sweep) is not dominating lol. I guess winning 66 games and 27 in a row is not dominating. Having the second best home record and the best road record isn’t dominating. Stop hating the Heat beat the Spurs with their bench! No James or Wade. The Heat are the defending champions and are head and shoulders over the rest of the league. Get over it haters! the world would be shocked if Miami didn’t repeat, the story would be bigger than Jason Collins coming out the closet.

      • realist2013 says:

        You enthusiasm as a fan is amusing. They won against a team they’re supposed to. I said it before on paper they should win but a series against a few teams I wont underestimate their abilities. Thats a good way to lose.

  16. K Nero says:

    Westbrook IS the ‘Thunder’ in OKC

  17. Realist2013 says:

    Westbrook is a scoring point guard and not traditional like nash and rhondo. He and Durant try to will their teams to win. Sadly they don’t have knock down shooters aside from Martin who’s been off to help with the scoring load. I think OKC focused so much on defense they forgot about offense. During last years finals durant and westbrook both scored big but it didn’t matter because no one else stepped up to make the difference. Teams expect the super stars to score big their job is to make sure the other guys don’t show up. The Rockets have more of a balanced attack. I’m just proud they made it this far with a team of all new guys. Anything beyond now is just gravy and keep in mind they have the cap space to add a big name or two in the off season.

  18. coops says:

    Juat no way they should have let harden go, and prefer ibaka over him. Hell out of westbrook, ibaka and harden james could have been the most important to keep, in a couple of years he could be better than russell i think. Just handing it to the heat this year, spurs have the best shot but not even close to miami

    • YoYo says:

      They dig themselves that hole when they gave Perkin that huge contract…ibaka is more important to their team then Harden even tho Harden is a better player Ibaka bring interior defense which is what they need, defense win championship not a bunch of scorer and ball handler..:P

  19. Jackie Robinson says:

    First of all, all of you people who have the nerve to even think about, much less suggest that Russel Westbrook is even in the same league as KD are ignorant and no longer have the right to post any basketball related comments anywhere. saying that westbrook is better than Durrant is more ignorant than predicting “the Milwaukee Bucs to beat the Hear in 6 games.”

    Next I admit that westbrook is a talented player but he is very fundamentally unsound and is a horrible decision maker who only has one pace…. fast. while he has a high ceiling, He lacks the maturity and fundamental skills that are required to move into superstar status. while he is very valuable to this team, they are still not a contender with him and yes they would have been better off trading him for rondo who is the best floor general in the game. had they done that, they would still have Harden who is also better than Westbrook.

  20. jake s. says:

    It’s not hack asik that says Thunder not contenders… its no Westbrook that says Thunder not contenders. I’m really starting to question the tone and professionalism of Fran Blinebury. The comments section is for an editorial view, Fran.

  21. thunderwatch says:

    the thunder will never ever, ever never, win a title with this coach. he has not a clue. the only reason they made it to the finals last year and are where they are know is because his players are so talented, they make him look good. he is one idiot that needs to get fired pronto.

    he left martin in when he could have used jeremy lamb.

    he’s had liggins on the bench this whole time. he put liggins on parsons and he held parsons to only 10 points to the 27 he had from the game before when liggins was not checking him.

    should have been playing reggie, liggins, and orton in place of perkins a long time ago.

    perkins and brooks equals no championship ever in this life or the next five!!!!!!!!!!

  22. anonymous says:

    thats because they put too much minutes on Perk instead of Collison. Perk is a liability because he is slow and there is no low post threat for the thunder only a constant rebounder and thabo and k-mart should have been knocking down shots

  23. L A A C says:

    They should have kept a true point guard like Eric Maynor, Westbrook or no Westbrook.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      They opted to keep Reggie Jackson and re-sign Derek Fisher and trade Maynor to Blazers.

      Reggie Jackson is currently better than Maynor. Smart move.

      Yes, Westbrook’s injury stings. But guess what? Durant’s PPG increased. Reggie Jackson’s PPG increased HUGE. Kevin Martin’s PPG increased.

      OKC Thunder are deeper than some people give them credit for. :-)

  24. chandler says:

    it actually worked they got it to 7 but thats when they should have stopped. these stratgies are all about when to stop

    • YoYo says:

      Number 1 seed t with Durant on their team shouldn’t have to resort to hacking and flopping on the 8th seed team, they showed their true colors last night, and also without their tremendous talent to back Brook up, he is getting exposed as a Coach, bad coaching….

  25. YoYo says:

    That what for playing dirty and OMG all those flopping, used to like how OKC but after seeing how dirty they plays and that double flops by Fisher and Selfalosa they are just dirty when they aren’t overpowering ppl with their talents…They derserve to lose last night…

    • 34yr fan says:

      ….the floppin’ fish……lol……that is his …”role”…..funny

    • YoYo says:

      Fisher is a same piece of trash that used his sick daughter as an excuse to get out of Dallas and into OKC for a chance at a ring? Trash in in life and trash on the court kinda expects this kind of stuff from trash like him…#Synchonized flop!!!

  26. Cesar says:

    Russel Westbrook is the best pg, duh there gonna miss him he’s half the team and that’s just on the court im pretty sure he is the vocal leader of the team. He’s just an Alpha Male, a dominant person all around. I dont see those qualities in Durant. Even tho he is better which i believe is only by a margin. But, if I was starting a team personally I would take WestBrook over KD.

  27. Kenny says:

    MJfromOKC

    Everyone counts Pop and the Spurs out every year. You should know that. They talk about how old and boring they are. Also, please do not even put Scott Brooks in the same sentence as Pop. S.B does not even come close!They also hacked Asik about a million times.

  28. Jeff says:

    GO OKC

  29. REAL Kevin Durant says:

    Stay strong guys!!!! We will get thru this:))))

    Get ready for Game 5. OKC beats the Rockets!!!!

  30. Ronnie Brewer says:

    Where is Ronnie Brewer???

  31. KC says:

    Intentionally fouling a player to send them to the free throw line is one thing. OKC is using a legit strategy in the game that isn’t against the rules. What the Nuggets are doing to try and injure Stephen Curry is complete BS and should be clamped down on hard by the NBA refs. But look: Hack-Asik is poor sportsmanship (according to this article), which the Nuggets are showing “toughness” or “physical play”. No, these are just euphemisms for “dirty play”.

    • 34yr fan says:

      high flyin’ shooters need to be careful on the court…they DON’T own it , you know. And as to your reference to the article implying that the tactic is poor sportsmanship…..not what he said OR meant

  32. PetterTheViking says:

    Scott Brooks need to start Kevin Martin he can not come off the bench when they need points!

  33. Red Nation Stand Up says:

    The Thunder have never been a team with heart or tenacity (except for Westbrook). Fear is within their hearts & minds. Good team, good record but still missing something. Houston has nothing to lose. We are Clutch City! We always believed! Never underestimate the heart of a champion. This will be a heartbreaking series for OnlyKeepingClose. They will use the loss of Westbrook as an excuse. Scott Brooks has a way to go to get them to play like a team that believes. After the butt kicking Houston puts on them, they will hopefully fear the woodshed a bit less.

  34. Bubba says:

    Why does OKC need a center? Isn’t Perkins good enough? Asik is way better than Perkins and obviously has more upside in his game. Thunder look weakened without Westbrook. Barely any scoring from Martin or Perkins. I’m glad Rockets traded Martin away for Harden. Thunder could really have used Harden right about now. OKC should have started Harden at SG instead of Sefolosha. OKC could have had a 4-headed monster with Westbrook, Harden, Durant, and Ibaka. Thank goodness that didn’t happen. Looks like some OKC fans are being optimistic about the 2013 NBA Draft rather than the 2013 NBA Playoffs. Ha.

    • wuffe says:

      Have you seen the 2013 draft? Houston’s pick they gave you is 11th. The best you can hope to get is a point guard. The 2 centers , Alex Len and Olynik are going to be gone. You have enough project centers.

  35. bob jkamoes says:

    KOBE IS GARBAGE!!@!@!@!@!

  36. joe says:

    It was 107-100. Not 107-97. Accuracy is appreciated. just sayin.

  37. firstblood says:

    Now the question for OKC is: Was trading Harden to avoid luxury tax worth it? It would be less painful if they will loose to the finals this year becuase they don’t have Harden and Martin is not playing well since he got traded to OKC. But loosing against Harden’s Rockets in the first round? supposed to be a great back up for the injured Westbrook? 1 win away to sweep Rockets 3-0 and now 3-2? That’s a nightmare!!! And by the way even OKC wins against Rockets, they got thermselves a headache for a while.lol

    • 34yr fan says:

      …”less painful to lose the Finals”????? Man………….. fans always get Waaaay ahead of themselves…..good thing they are not coaches….lol….

  38. truly concerned says:

    OKC made the biggest thunder blunder when they traded James Hardy. They destroyed the team dynamics and weakened their championship challenge. It was beyond comprehension and the management messed up. They could have tried to find a solution for Hardy. Trade two players and get one with a lower salary and keep Hardy or something workable. OKC will not win a championship and they may not even reach the western finals this year. The true nightmare is that if Westbrook became injured how will OKC respond. Hardy was the next go to man in that position. He will destroy OKC in the series. Shameful.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      Kevin Martin is just as good as James Harden. Check their career stats, if you don’t believe me.

      OKC will make the Finals. I don’t know if OKC will win it all, however. But they are very, very capable of winning it all.

  39. James says:

    always love your articles Fran! i know you’re just as happy as i am that the rockets are looking like a threat. REDNATION!

  40. Buk says:

    To the people who are talking about the Harden and Martin trade being wrong need to shut up really. OKC still had the best top record in the West without James Harden. Not to mention that the West is the toughest conference than the East is. The truth of the matter is without Westbrook reality starts to hit. KD still has enough help to knock out the Houston Rockets in game 6, but the real problem will be against Memphis or Chris Paul’s Clippers. We need to start giving credit where it is due, and Westbrook was not credited for his style of play, which KD openly admit to like Westbrook’s style of play. KD is a great lights out shooter, or better yet he is a great scorer because even Mike Miller can shoot the long ball.

    • 34yr fan says:

      …and you would have kept Ibaka and traded Harden???

      • Joshua Greenfarb says:

        If they couldn’t afford to keep Harden, then yes.

        Trade Harden to get Kevin Martin (who is just as good as Harden).

        Keep Ibaka for defense and improved offensive game.

        People keep wanting to forget that Kevin Martin’s career PPG is 17-18 or more. What do you think Harden’s career PPG is? Yes, Harden is now a starter so gets much more playing time, but Kevin Martin is a proven elite NBA player.

  41. Bubba Stump says:

    The Rockets are from Texas and God loves Texas so theyre going to win. The Celtics definatly wont make it far in the Play-Offs because Celtics starts with C like Communism.

  42. truly concerned says:

    OKC made the biggest blunder when they traded James Hardy. They destroyed the team dynamics and weakned their championship challenge. It was beyond comprehension and the management messed up. They could have tried to find a solution for Hardy. Trade two players and get one with a lower salary and keep Hardy or something workable. OKC will not win a championship and they may not even reach the western finals this year. The true nightmare is that if Westbrook became injured how will OKC respond. Hardy was the next go to man in that position. He will destroy OKC in the series. Shameful.

  43. NBA Fan says:

    Aaron Brooks and Pat Beverly can be starters for many NBA teams. J Lin can be a starter for some DLeague teams unless he starts to play like he did during his Linsanity times. Props to Asik for making his free throws and Cisco for being Cisco, looking to a friday blowout and making history in game 7. I can see Aaron Brooks playing for Lakers next year, Rockets missing that PF in Horford or David West

    Looks like Heat vs Grizzlies/Spurs for Finals

  44. truly concerned says:

    OKC made the biggest blunder when they traded Hames Hardy. They destroiyed the team dynamics and weakned their championship challenge. It was beyond comprehension and the mangement messed up. They couhd hhave tried to find a solution for Hardy. Trade two players and get one with a lower salary and keep Hardy or something workable. OKC will not win a championship and they may not even reach the west finals this year. The true nightmare is that if Westbrook became injured how will OKV respond. Hardy was the next go to man. He will destroy OKC in the series. Shameful.

  45. holyspectator says:

    durant whines about how hes second and how he comes behind LBJ in mvp race and all, well now people are starting to see why, lebron can be thrown in just about any team and make that team good, hell he put cavs on his back for multiple seasons and helped them win 60+ games several times..even took them to the finals, but of course in this modern nba era you have to have a few superstars on your squad to win it all or several really good players who are in sync and can play together..with all that being said as many of my fellow nba fans on this blog have stated, its clearly obvious that RW is crucial to OKC success…without him their is just no way OKC is gonna win. sure durant is a hell of a player but he has yet to develop that leader mentality, that ability to overcome challenges and guide his team and give them the belief that they can win a game, their was this one moment in the game towards the final 4 minutes of the 4th where KD was whining and complaining and he just kinda floated out the play and let his team mates try to make a shot, from that point it was obvious that KD and OKC were not gonna win..when you see your team leader too busy crying its kind of hard for you as an average player to think we gonna pull out with a W…even if OKC does make it out of this series the are not going to the NBA finals…KD is not a true leader to take this team on his back all the way. So Looks like SPURS vs MIAMI…miami in 6

  46. Tony says:

    Even with WB Houston beat Okc during thr regular season. Also game game 2 with WB Okc only win by 2 points. Harden shoots 7 three points straight because Okc defense was horrible. There is noway Houston can shoot like yesterday the next game. Anyway beside WB and Durant, Okc have no other talents. K mart, Thabo are shooting around 20%, Perkin and Ibaka dont even show up, and Reggie Jackon can no way be a starter….

  47. Wow says:

    It’s pretty sick how happy WB getting hurt has made the Houston/Miami fans. Personally I’m rooting for the Grizz now. I would love to see all the new heat bandwagon fans see how bad Miami gets smashed by Z-Bo and Gasol.

    • HEATFANSINCEWADE says:

      LMAO good luck with that one. Memphis wont make the finals but if they do, the Heat will beat em like a drum lol.

  48. Rockets Fan says:

    I’m suprised no one saw this coming for OKC, they have been playing the same brand of basketball all season. OKC’s rise has always been about their three young stars playing hero ball in iso situations, creating and setting the table for the entire team. Thats why the OKC management messed up in the off-season when they traded harden to the rockets. I would rather cut perkins and use his payroll to get a compromise with harden to resign him to a 3yrs contract with a bigger payroll than the original offer. The reason why thunder has been so successful relying on hero ball from their rising young stars is because they play big, all three of them are so gd at drawing fouls that perkins would never be needed to guard opposing centers because they would be sitting on the bench due to foul troubles all game…

  49. Choke-lahoma City... says:

    Okay first I’d like to say that all this OKC drama is kind of getting old. I keep hearing about how the Thunder don’t have a shot at winning an NBA title without Russell Westbrook. The fact that Westbrook is out for the rest season has put OKC in hole which will be hard to crawl out of, of course, and without the explosive scoring of Westbrook, someone will have to step up. I have watched OKC all year and have seen much improvement in the second-year player Reggie Jackson. Jackson plays with a lot of confidence and has shown he can score the ball, and in my opinion is more of a true point guard than Westbrook, who takes more shots in a game than any other point guard I’ve seen. Though scoring is mostly what OKC lacks, team leadership is also a problem. Kevin Durant has averaged around 34 points a game this year in the playoffs, but he calls for the ball almost every possession. If Durant plans to lead his team to another series in the finals, he needs to be a team player, otherwise the Houston Rockets will be the first team in NBA history to overcome a 0-3 record…..Just saying!!!

  50. aj says:

    Everyone hates on Kobe, but look!…..Durant can’t do jack without Russel lol

    He can’t even beat the 8th seed on his own home floor. Yeah Durant sure is better than Kobe…lol…smh

  51. Samuel says:

    Hack-Asik is proof that the Thunder ran out of ideas, but only in one game not the entire playoffs.

  52. tay says:

    i’d love to see the young rockets take down the number 1 seed. it certainly would be a great david/goliath story. is it me or are the rockets always the underdog? remember when yao ming did that presser and said “he just learned the word underdog a few days ago”? it’s like the rockets don’t really know what’s at stake and they are just playing the game. the thunder, on the other hand, look panicked. fun to watch— let’s get to game 7- this is the most exciting series in the playoffs!

  53. Than says:

    OKC is, of course, not a contender. They willl get past the Rockets and they will yield to Memphis or Clippers. There’s now way they can cover 25 points 7 asissts 7 rebounds and the energy Westbrook offers this team. Let’s see if any team can get past the spurs. And just because I don’t like the great ones I hope someone gets past Miami. Difficult though, as there is this playoff fundamental. I cannot really see any team get to win MIA four times.

  54. matthewgonzalez90 says:

    Did people actually believe that Reggie Jackson was going to carry the Thunder to the finals? Jackson is a great player and all, but he’s ridiculously inexperienced and he’s not as explosive, nor as energetic, as Westbrook. Not to mention, Jackson doesn’t average the other big chunk of OKC’s scoring, like Westbrook does. The other major dilemma OKC faces is they’re just a run-and-gun jump-shooting team. No half-court offense. And if you say they can run the offense through Ibaka or Perkins, then just get off of this thread right now cos you and I both know that’s a load of b/s. You run it through the combination of Westbrook and Durant, but since Westbrook isn’t around, Durant feels the need to try and do both facilitating and scoring. As a result, Durant is caused to fatigue quicker because he isn’t used to doing two things at once. All in all, if history does repeat itself, they’ll make it out of the first round, but they’re not getting past round two.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      Kevin Durant will carry the Thunder to the Finals and to a probably 2013 NBA World Championship. Reggie Jackson will help but it’s Durant that will carry most of the load.

  55. matthewgonzalez90 says:

    Did people actually believe that Reggie Jackson was going to carry the Thunder to the finals? Jackson is a great player and all, but he’s ridiculously inexperienced and he’s not as explosive, nor as energetic, as Westbrook. Not to mention, Jackson doesn’t average the other big chunk of OKC’s scoring, like Westbrook does. The other major dilemma OKC faces is they’re just a run-and-gun jump-shooting team. No half-court offense. And if you say they can run the offense through Ibaka or Perkins, then just get off of this thread right now cos you and I both know that’s a load of b/s. You run it through the combination of Westbrook and Durant, but since Westbrook isn’t around, Durant feels the need to try and do both facilitating and scoring. As a result, Durant is caused to fatigue quicker because he isn’t used to doing two things at once. All in all, if history does repeat itself, they’ll make it out of the first round, but they’re not getting past round two.

  56. Beast says:

    Now people can see what LeBron went through for seven years. KD is great but he doesnt make his teammates better like LeBron did. Thats what makes you a great player its all about the team.

    • aj says:

      No body doubts Lebron had it hard, he just left the team and the city like an arrogant bastard

  57. sean says:

    This type of play ruins the game. fans don’t come to see centers shoot 16 free throws in 5 minutes. play some real defence and man up okc. you won’t win a championship pulling that ****

  58. MemGrizz33 says:

    Even if the thunder get through this round they will definitely lose the next one. The Grizzlies defense will shut down the thunder, and the way the thunder have been turning the ball over anyways, it will just be the grizzlies running the floor and keeping the pace for the whole series. They will put either prince or allen on kd, either one of the, can stop him from scoring and no one else can score for them. Maybe ibaka occasionally, but there is no one to look to. Westbrook just spread the defense allowing open jumpers for durant or ibaka. The thunder have no bench to go to anymore now that harden is gone. Kevin Martin needs to show up if they even want to get out of the first round. As a grizzlies fan I am more worried about the rockets getting to the next round to play us. I want the thunder next round, but we’ll see…

    • 34yr fan says:

      Hey Grizzfan…… They haven’t even won their 1st round series yet …..yet you have them in the 2nd round…… you HAVE to wait and see before you make claims….. They’r series with LAC is NO cakewalk !!! just sayin’……..

  59. JamesW says:

    I predict that Rocket will win at least two rounds in this platyoffs

  60. clearwall says:

    Dont you dare try to steal the Spurs magic. HACK A SHAQ ONLY WORKS IN SAN ANTONIO!!!

  61. clearwall says:

    Lol, how dare you try to copy Coach Pop. HACK A SHAQ WILL NEVER WORK OUTSIDE OF SAN ANTONIO!

  62. W/E says:

    So, without Westbrook, Durant is becoming Kobe Bryant number2, a ballhog jacking up shots getting 35+ just to lose the game, Westbrook plays with so much energy on both ends he is so valuable, OKC is such a weaker team without him.

  63. Eric says:

    The reason Kevin Martin is so ineffective nowadays was because the NBA officating focused on NOT calling fouls on “rip through shots” that is..intentially throwing up your arms through a defender’s outstretched arms in a shot attempt. That’s when Kevin Martin really nose dived after that change was made.

    Now you know why his production nose dived.

    • 34yr fan says:

      ……not calling them??????? What were all of thoses thing the frail ‘superstar’ KD got???

  64. Eric says:

    With Houston going small ball, they have a tremendous advantage in quickness and speed over OKC..that’s what McHale has discovered. I remember how Aaron Brooks gave Los Angeles fits while pushing them to a full 7 games without Yao and McGrady.

    Lin is a liability against someone like Westbrook…injuring Lin for Houston was probably a tremendous favor OKC did to them. I know Lin was way over his head against Westbrook…because Russell was superioer in nearly every way especially phyiscally and atheletically.

    Personally, I think Houston is a power forward away from contending for the NBA title….and no…Dwight Howard isn’t the answer for them. He’s a fricking prima donna and too prone to injury and Asik shoots free throws far better than he does. *rim shot* Kevin Love would be perfect for Houston. Or hell, any PF who can command a double team to pull defenders off their three ball shooters. Let’s say for instance..they had Carmelo Anthony..they’d absolutely kill any other team in teh entire league.

    Oh and Parsons is an up and comer. I would NOT trade him for any reason whatsoever.

  65. That dude says:

    Wooh lets go rockets

  66. will says:

    This is the proof why Westbrook is so important for the thunder, and the proof of how wrong some critics were about Westbrook..

    But the thing that is now clearer than ever is that Brooks is not a good coach, he is not the coach of a contender team, he could be a good coach to a developing team, as a motivator, but he can’t draw a play if his life depende on it…

    he has absolutely no game plan, other than isolating Durant and Westbrook, (and last year also Harden)..

    he don’t make plays for Ibaka who is being guarded by harden in a clear mismatch..and he even makes the simplest mistakes that a coach can make…playing a guy that is not shooting the ball well (Martin) instead of trying a different player..

    I’m a thunder fan and I hope Brooks get’s fired…

    we need a real coach, someone who can draw plays, who can adjust and that is not stubborn with his lineups…we need a coach that can use all the players and involve them on offense, and in defense..

    Brooks has to get fired…

  67. MJfromOKC says:

    OKC has two incredible players, a pretty good backup PG actually and then D Fish who has played above expectations. The rest of our roster blows. If one of those two incredible players is out the rest of the team is highly vulnerable. I dont think the hack-asik worked but I wasnt shocked by it. We hacked Thiago Splitter in one of the games in the conference finals last year and in the post game press conference James Harden said “hack a splitter.” We ended up winning that game. Nobody called us out for that one…

    • 34yr fan says:

      yeah….and he looked EXACTLY like his ‘nickname’…..D FISH floppin’ all over the court like a fish on a dock…..LOL didn’t work though ….did it? Just face the facts thunderfan…. you paid the WRONG player to stay as your “core”…… enjoy the fishin’ this summer!!! lol

  68. DesiOnTheLoose says:

    After watching last nights game, I wouldnt be surprised if Houston takes the series and its Rockets-Grizzlies next round. Grizzlies look like the contenders and will Win the WCF against the Spurs. I guarantee it. Memphis-Miami would be heck of a series. Memphis has beaten Miami 3 times in 2 years and always seem to be a problem for the Heat. Heat don’t have answers for Randolph and Gasol.

    • 34yr fan says:

      …guarantee it ?????? Do you work in the NBA front office or somethin’……. foolish statement…..so I guess you are a Grizzfan, huh??

  69. Kevin Martin says:

    Lets get the boat started, OKC its time to go fishing!!

  70. Thunder says:

    I dont like to say this as a Thunder fan but if presti can’t build a championship type team, The LeBron Drama will repeat in 2016

  71. stinson says:

    i would love to see rockets advance past the thunder which is still difficult. but we all have to remember is kevin martin is a very under rated scorer and i think dey need to use him more, he missed alot of shot goin 1-10 but if he gets hot its blast off for rockets. ronnie brewer should be getting some minutes hes pretty gd on D and was part of the bench mob in chicago last season.

  72. bu says:

    For the Hack-A-sik, I think it’s not a bad tactic for the team to try to close it out whichever way it can quickly. Rockets is a dangerous team with their outside shooting. They seem to be making shots all over the place & they live & die with it. Even if RW is there, I’m not sure the Thunder’s perimeter defense can stop the barrage.

    I’ve never considered the Thunder a real title contender even with Westbrook there. The other guys are simply not strong enough to carry an offensive load or hv some kind of dominant defensive system in place to put in stops. Thunder has always used RW & KD as the 1-1 scoring punch & put up more points than the other team. Yes, Ibaka is a great shotblocker & Perkins has the beef for the defense & rebounding. But Brooks simply do not have a strong enough system in place (both Off & Def) to work with good role players & grind out wins.

    They now also face the same problem of the Celtics, no PG to control the ball & tempo.

    So it’s clear that the Thunder will hv to adjust in a hurry as they’ve been lucky (or unlucky) to have both RW & KD healthy all this time.

    Thibs & Doc of Chicago & Celtics win with system, team ball & culture. Jerry Sloan & Nellie also. Although only Doc has won a ring with the big 3 in prime, but it’s great to watch how these coaches muster every ounce out of their players & keeping them believe. Incredible job.

    • Spurs says:

      You forgot the Spurs, injury plagued, old age and still winning. System System System.
      Had it not been for optional rest nights they could easily of won 65 games this year.

      • 34yr fan says:

        …..ppl ALWAYS forget/discount the spurs……thee spurs LIVE under the radar…..of flash…..its always been their home….and I love it…Because , you KNOW, they are too old, slow, old, injured, old, no “stars”, too old…LOL…….it is funny as all get out…..NEXT stop…….semis

      • Chris says:

        ^^I think their lack of radar gives them a certain charm.. They’re always considered boring and yet they have four championships in the last fourteen years. I guess because they’re not all up in the media (aside from Parker’s failed marriage) they’re not worth mentioning

    • 34yr fan says:

      …..Celts bought that ring, man…..and Sloan and Nelson are lonnnnnng gone…..what’s your point…….you want Sloan as the OKC coach??

  73. Davaugn Nicholson says:

    Without Westbrook OKC isn’t going anywhere. They need him more than people know.

  74. user93 says:

    i’ve never liked the harden-martin trade since it was done for many reasons. firstly martin can’t get his own shot, and he’s virtually the same as sefolosha except he gets to foul line a more and shoots the three a bit better but also no where near the defender that thabo is. we can’t resign him if we want any chance of going deep in the playoffs in future years. we need a harden type player who can defend, set up teammates and get his own shot. Ideally thunder gets a arron affalo, jr smith, jarrett jack, wesley mathews or even lance stephenson type player to come off the bench for them. Also we should amnesity perkins, use the 20m or so which these moves free up and sign nikola pekovic.

  75. ko0kiE says:

    what did you expect? Westbrook is an very good scorer who had the ball in his hands a lot…they never played without him since he has been there.. Sefolosha for examples has some decent moves and also can setup teammates but he hasn’t been used to do that because of westbrook..

  76. ism says:

    OKC should be thankful, Westbrook’s injury will probably save them a lot of exhaustion and a potential rematch-and-loss in the Finals against Miami.

  77. Axe says:

    The “Hack-Asik” was a good strategy in my opinion, but the rest of the article is right to the point. The role players need to step up, but it is just too much to ask from such a bad supporting cast… I really can’t understand why Brooks keeps playing Fisher-Martin and benching Lamb-Jones. Fisher has never been a really good player and Martin has been miserably inconsistent this season. At the same time in the D-League, Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones have proven themselves worthy of NBA minutes. Lamb is a scoring machine from inside and out – just what the Thunder need with Westbrook out. Jones is a solid big man who can catch and finish around the rim (unlike Perkins-.-) which is another glaring need for OKC. Yes, they need some seasoning and that might cost the Thunder game 6, but unless they are inserted into the rotation, we will get swept against the Grizzlies. All in all, I think Brooks is an OK coach, but it seems he doesn’t trust his promising young players which could be really bad for the team.

  78. Harden says:

    So……that’s why you don’t trade Harden for K-mart….

  79. Good article. The might Thunder vs the baby Rockets. Momentum has certainly shifted. The worrisome thing for the Thunder is the confidence that the Rockets currently exude. It’s gonna be a dogfight in houston on Friday night. Will the series end on Friday? Or will Houston push OKC to 7 games?

  80. wsl4 says:

    I used to be a big fan of KD, even as a Rockets fan. But, to see him take a cheap shot at Lin, bark at Houston’s bench, whine to the refs and make the ridiculous comment “…Hack a whatever his name is…’ shows either how bush league he is or how rattled he is. I’m hoping it’s the latter, but he clearly is not in Lebron, Kobe or Duncan’s (and many others) league yet. Maybe he’ll grow into that position, maybe not. One thing I can guarantee is, he won’t forget Asik’s name, ever. At least Omer scores in the 4th quarter in big games.

  81. Lala says:

    I dont think its russel himself thats actually effecting them winning but the fact that he got hurt during playoffs which they havent had time to adjust playing without him.. Just like the bulls when they lost rose its not that they werent good without him it was just a detramental blow to the chemistry. You really dont have time to adjust to losing a player in a 7 game series. Look at jr smith when he missed one game against boston, boston took that advantage and ran with it. Let the thunder lose westbrook earlier in the season and had some games without him im sure they wouldnt have any trouble.

  82. Alfee says:

    Rockets has already made a lot of miracle in the this season, so, if they win 4-3 against OKC this time in the playoff, it would not be a shock.

  83. Iblameu2 says:

    This is what they get when they trade Harden, Its OKC fault for not building their bench look what happened the game is like Kevin Durant Vs. Houston Rockets, Brooks has lack of knowledge when it comes to Team Basketball the whole season is like KD and RW Show and when one goes down to injury they are hopeless game six is more of adjustment but if this team can’t adjust say goodbye Conference Finals goodbye championship. Hello fishing season….

  84. celtics forever says:

    didn’t they do that to splitter last ECF?

  85. TT says:

    Told ya that Houston Rockets will win without Lin-liability!! See how buffed up the Rocket’s defence is without him leaving lanes open and prevent drives!!

    • Chris says:

      Lin really isn’t that bad of a player. He was a roleplayer who answered the call of duty in NY and ended up getting way more hype than even he knew he deserved. But really when you look at it from that perspective its easier to see the value in him as a player. I’ll give him one more season before I write him off as worthless though but I can see him being good enough to help Houston win. He should try training under someone like Stockton if he can. Or hell he’s buddy buddy with Steph Curry isn’t he? HAng out with him in the Summer and see what he can learn

      • TT says:

        Do you think a Hall of Famer John Stockton would give tuition to anyone? And get my point man, Houston Rockets are clearly better off without him in terms of defence, which Houston Rockets haven’t been playing with him around. It doesn’t have to do with his offence, because a team simply cannot win with offence alone. Watch the OKC games again. Patrick Beverley and Aaron Brooks have been playing tough defence which led them to victory. Lin-liability probably’s taking the chance now to give tuition for a fee of US$5000 per hour right now considering he’s a Harvard graduate and he has all the time in the world. He wouldn’t pay Stephen Curry to train with him in return.

  86. Kevin says:

    Well, KD is too tired on the pitch. He needs some rest. I think that’s the reason why Scoot Brooks want to hack Asik; so that KD can get some rest when Asik is making the free throws. I personally think that Houston might be able to knock OKC out, considering last year’s Rose injury which 76ers knocked Bulls out.

  87. Heat Fanatic says:

    i myself was in disbelief and disgust. OKC is soooooooo pathetic using that tactic. This rule should be abolished by the NBA!!!

  88. OzSonicsFan says:

    I’m suprised to see HOU take down OKC without Lin and in OKC’s house. That’s gold!

  89. jj says:

    coaching is a joke in OKC durant at top witch the ball that all your offens

  90. BasketCase says:

    Finally I hope this will silence the idiots that are still banging on about Westbrook’s shot selection and that OKC would be better off without him, He has improved immensely this year, in not only his stat line but also in his decision making. He makes shots he used to miss, and he is trustworthy down the stretch with the ball in his hands. Too many people read articles that were written two seasons ago and still base their opinion on outdated information.
    I’m amazed that someone takes the time to write in an internet forum about the Thunder “Trading James Harden because they didn’t need him” Maybe learn a bit about the Salary Cap and Luxury tax rules and the effect they can have on a small market team like OKC, and I’m sure you’ll come to realise that Sam Presti would have definitely kept Harden if they could have afforded to,
    Get well soon Russell and I hope the Thunder can challenge a couple of teams in the Playoffs even if I don’t think they’ll make it past the Semi’s

    • 34yr fan says:

      …they could have ….they Chose Ibaka instead……..and kept other players that were imho… trade bait/expendable

  91. BMW says:

    Augusto: “As Heat fan, the day they traded away James Harden I knew the Heat had won the championship. Who does that? Trade an All-star going into his prime, part of your three headed monster… because you didn’t think you needed him? Thank you OKC General Manager… we’ll send you a ring from South Beach.” My thoughts exactly when I heard that Harden was traded/got a better deal. I have never understood teams in the past, either winning it all or making a good run in the playoffs with a young team, once bounced from the playoffs, would then trade off their young talent for inferior pieces. Or letting players “walk away”. I sometimes feel like some teams just don’t want to win.

    • anthony says:

      they couldn’t afford to sign him to a max contract since that would send them way over the salary cap limit and end up paying luxury tax. they’re not the lakers, you know.

    • 34yr fan says:

      ….just ask that genius Mark C in Dallas……lol

  92. ben says:

    they’re not contenders. lets not pretend someone can beat miami.

    and i dont even like miami.

  93. ?????? says:

    Maybe now people will appreciate what Lebron James had to go through for 7 years. It’s hard to win with no reliable second option.

    I think the Thunder can win one more before the series is done, but – barring any more unforeseen injuries – they will have difficulty moving on from there.

  94. Hey @Augusto.. all you know is basketball.. you forgot that nba is also a business.. the OKC GM traded away James Harden for a reason: to free some cap space.. who in the world would trade away a very good player like Harden? The Thunder wants a player who is a scorer like harden but with a cheaper salary.. and that is Kevin Martin.. Trading away Harden is better than losing him at the end of the season in exchange for nothing like LBJ in Cleveland.. I know since Harden got better and better that one of the OKC core group will leave OKC.. and in the offseason, they signed Ibaka, Perk (not sure though), Westbrook and KD with max contracts. That’s why they have to trade away Harden.. Think first men. NBA has its business side also..

    • 34yr fan says:

      …..would you –after last season–sign Ibaka and trade away all of those points and then put the onus on Martin who is NOT proven in pressure situations???? Would you?? ….. I wouldn’t . It IS very hard to find a big as talented as Ibaka ….BUT it is even harder to find as great a shooter as Harden. If Harden stops turning the ball over with iffy decisions he will be a Real Superstar in this league for years to come….

      • Sintido kumon says:

        Agree,they chose Ibaka over Harden which was the wrong choice…Harden deserves the max contract than Ibaka,Serge should’ve got a paycut coz no way he’s getting a max contract anywhere else in the NBA…

  95. Tom says:

    Just goes to show how relying so heavily on one high volume player for so long can stunt the rest of your offense. It also doesn’t help that Scotty Brooks doesn’t seem to run any sort of system outside of Durant/WB playing hero ball.

  96. Whoacool says:

    I think OKC can still win the first round but it would be really cool and very historic to see Houston win it. An eight seed won over a Number 1 seed winning 4 straight after losing the first 3 games. That would be WOW. Houston is red hot right now and they have the momentum. I just hope Lin will just stay injured and let the Beard lead the Rockets to go at least to the 2nd round :D. Houston won’t get past 2nd round because of Memphis. Western Finals will be Defense vs Defense ( Spurs – Grizzlies)

  97. i predict that scot brooks will get fired if they dont get to the finals again..

  98. yoyoyoyo says:

    thunder need a point guard that can distribute

  99. Frans says:

    Westbrook got injured and then there was only one powerhouse left: El Heat. But I would not plan a parade yet. Looks like this season proves that balanced teamplay is worth more than a handful of superstars in your team. Memphis, Indiana, Rockets and the Bulls are the best practices in that regard. And you also see the Celtics and Spurs are making a shift to that kind of play those two franchises did not need to play the last years since they were both spoiled rotten with three superstars.
    I really like to watch the balanced teamplay. Every game a different player steps up to carry the load. Those teams are a threat to Miami, who will probably meet Memphis of SAS in the finals. And both of those Western Conference team can surprise Miami. Sorry, but OKC without Westbrook just can’t…

    • anthony says:

      Chicago, Memphis and Indiana rank 26, 27 and 28 respectively in bench scoring for the season while San Antonio is 5th. So while your arguement about balanced teamplay is correct, your claim that the Spurs have been relying on their 3 stars primarily is laughable, at best. Not one of their 3 “superstars” even played 70 or more games this year and yet they still managed 58 wins with different starting lineups and substitution rotations.

      • Frans says:

        Maybe my English is not that good, but that was exactly what I wrote, or at least wanted to write. San Antonio used to rely on their three star players, but nowadays wins games with great teameffort.Same with the Celtics. They lost probably their best player but did not slide away.

    • 34yr fan says:

      ….SA always won with great TEAM play….especially the bench

    • Chris says:

      Wait wha? Miami is the only powerhouse? The spurs are still a Powerhouse.. Don’t ever sleep on the Spurs so long as Coach Pop stays there he will drag the best out of all of his players. Duncan looked like a throwback to the guy who won Rookie of the Year and his first championship a season later throughout much of this season. Parker’s got his rhythm back and so long as Ginoboli remains healthy the Spurs have the power to win it all. I’m not saying they will but to even count them out of that discussion is just damn silly.

  100. aron says:

    Come Friday night, if the Thunder still can’t wrap up this series in Houston, then maybe history has other plans. I can just imagine the looks on everybody when a no. 8 seed upsets the no. 1 even when the latter has a 3-0 advantage.

    • Chris says:

      When I first found out about the Westbrook injury I was all “Psh, they’re playing Houston, they’ll still win.” now it looks like Houston can actually take this series. First the Lakers terrible season, Miami’s 27 game winning streak, and how two teams that were at 3-0 (Boston and Houston) actually look like they can make history. This has been a season to remember

  101. Matt says:

    How about the Thunder taking their early round(s) to some more games to give Westbrook time to heal before they have to face the teams that will really prove to be a challenge? They can finish Houston off whenever they want to.

    • Han says:

      Westbrook won’t come back until late this year. Doesn’t matter if all series goes to 7. He’s out for this season

    • If that’s true, maybe not a smart move at all, since the LAC-MEM series MIGHT extend to seven games.. it’s way better to finish houston early to get some rest for the team and just wait for the other series to finish..

    • AM says:

      That wouldn’t give them much more time, maybe a couple of days in each round,Anyway, Westbrook is out of the playoffs, doing that wouldn’t give enough time for WB.

    • sempersmom says:

      That was an arrogant comment. I’m sure the Thunder were trying their best to finish off the Rockets but the Rockets would have none of that. I really hope it goes to 7 games with the Rockets moving on to the next round.

  102. Han says:

    A lot of ppl critisize Westbrook as ball-hog or dumb for taking that shots, but now I guess they can see that he’s one of the main reason that OKC could go far last year (apart from KD). Same for Kobe. Say what you will, but Lakers just couldn’t mount any challenge without him (I’m not saying they could win with Kobe, but at least, they’d give more challenge to Spurs)

  103. Rockets Fan says:

    Kudos to the youngest team in the nba for setting the tone early and winning a crucial game in 1 of the most hostile arena. OKC fans might disagree but i think scott brooks is not a good coach. OKC is the only title contender that has lopsided roles for its players. Deep down, KD WB and once JH was the team’s only offense. Now with only KD, people realise how reliant thunder’s offense has been on their rising superstars… Blame your coach, it only takes a simple system to get role player that are defenders their whole life to contribute offensely. Miami is a simple example, (thabo/battier, bosh/ibaka) just comparing some similarities. Proud of coach K.Mchale for coming up with a suitable system that is able utilise every players’ talents. #REDNATION

    • yeah, i’m starting to believe in that nowadays.. Scott Brooks should change some of his strategies.. He has to consult his playbook and make some player movement and ball movement.. Also, they have to pick things up defensively too..

    • thunderup says:

      Brooks is a good coach for certain things, but I’ll give you the lack of system. He and his staff however are perfect at player development. The reason Westbrook, Ibaka, Reggie, are that good….and heck Harden, and even Durant is because of the Thunder’s focus on player development. The lack of system is eating them alive right now though. Durant’s inability to bring the energy and leadership is glaring right now without Westbrook, who gave the Thunder a shot. Those two created enough havoc that a set system wasn’t necessary, but without wolverine out there bringing all the energy it’s over.

      Bad comparison with the Heat. Those players are nowhere alike. This issue is closer to San Antonio and their success even without Parker, because Pop brings a system. Also, The Rockets had little answer for the Thunder until Westbrook went down. McHale has it relatively easy considering all he has to do is mess with Durant. No Westbrook, no energy, no role players getting involved. The Rockets are playing the same system they’ve had all year. And also, Brooks adjusted quite well to losing Harden after training camp this season. The guy knows chemistry. Sadly, there’s no time to fix it now, so without a system this is gonna be short lived.

      • 34yr fan says:

        ….they didn’t ‘Lose” Harden…..They decided to Not pay what he is ‘obviously’ worth so the could keep Serge. So Ibaka needs to show up offensively every night–15 to 20 pts worth…..

  104. lebron james says:

    This is not the same team that made a run to the nba finals in 2012. no more harden or westbrook. Durant can take 20 shots a gamer and hog the ball all he wants but thats not gonna get him past miami to earn himself a ring he has not supporting cast unlike miam i which has the deepest bench in the nba and three future hall famers.

    • LAKERS 4EVA!! says:

      3 future hall of famers??? I hope you mean James, Wade and Allen! I tend to think they have 4, the 4th being Bosh, b ut as a career I’d rate Allen ahead of Bosh…

      • D says:

        People forget that Chris Bosh at one point was a Super Star in the NBA. And I’d still say he is, yeah his numbers are down since coming to Miami, but use your head of course his numbers are gonna decline since he’s joining two other Super Stars (when you have 3 stars playing together numbers will decline because its different from having one star on a team carrying the whole team), and one of those two happens to be the best player in the NBA (meaning anybody who plays with the best will likely defer to the best and play through the best, which will also cause numbers to drop). Plus, Chris Bosh deserves credit for a lot of the intangible things and other immeasurable stats that allow Wade, Allen, LeBron, etc. to put up the numbers they’ve been able to.

      • Chris says:

        ^Even as someone who doesn’t care too much for the heat I agree there. Bosh is severely underrated, but it comes with the territory of playing with Wade and James. I think any team would be really lucky to have him though.

        Though that comment about deepest bench? That seems to be a bit of an exaggeration but they’re definitely in the discussion

    • HOP says:

      Did you forget about the spurs? They clobbered LA with Matt bonner on D12!?!? Deepest bench? I doubt that, they dont have a Ginobili coming off the bench and thats just the 2nd unit of whats seems to be a plethora of endless combinations for the spurs. There is much to pause if you are a heat fan because you are only as strong as your weakest link and coach pop will expose it. Spurs crushed a raw young lebron before and they can do it again. You want to crown them, then the fall will just be as sweet.

      • Chris says:

        You think Lebron is still young and raw, like he was in Cleveland? Well he’s not. Also, if you take a look at Lebron’s Supporting Cast in Cleveland, then take a look at his cast in Miami, you’ll notice his Miami cast is so much better. That’s also one of the reasons why L left Cleveland. The Cav’s just couldn’t put a team around Lebron and he had to carry his team, like Durant is now without Russ.

      • Are you for real? says:

        Only as strong as your weakest link? hahaha. You are a funny dude with impeccable logic. But i sure would pay to see the look on the face of someone who wrote a comment like this, when the SPURS LOSE!!!!!

    • HOP says:

      Did you forget about the spurs? They clobbered LA with Matt bonner on D12!?!? Deepest bench? I doubt that, they dont have a Ginobili coming off the bench and thats just the 2nd unit of whats seems to be a plethora of endless combinations for the spurs. There is much to pause if you are a heat fan because you are only as strong as your weakest link and coach pop will expose it.

      • HEATFANSINCEWADE says:

        Hop if and only If your spurs make the finals you will get crushed! 66-16 and 27 in a row shows that Miami is even better than last year. Spurs fans are so delusional you guys keep getting upsetted every year yet you keep running your mouth. Miami will win period.

      • 34yr fan says:

        …..and “you guys” have never stopped with the ‘king’ talk even when James’ all star team–(or is that dwade’s all star team?)–lost to Dallas after his inauguration !! When the Heaters can consistently win –(12 seasons of 50 or more wins)–and be in the chase then maybe you can be a trash talker about teams better than yours…or at least as good……. The ONLY reason Miami won last year was due to the inexperience of the Thunder on the biggest stage…..period. And btw……if hte king is sooooo good then why deal for ring searcher Allen??? Scared of Boston with him???……LOL

      • Are you for real? says:

        And so why did the spurs lose to the “inexperienced” Thunder? Oh I know! Because the spurs are the best team in the world whether they win or lose!

  105. Ronnie Brewer says:

    Where is Ronnie Brewer?

  106. Augusto says:

    As Heat fan, the day they traded away James Harden I knew the Heat had won the championship. Who does that? Trade an All-star going into his prime, part of your three headed monster… because you didn’t think you needed him? Thank you OKC General Manager… we’ll send you a ring from South Beach.

    • Hey @Augusto.. all you know is basketball.. you forgot that nba is also a business.. the OKC GM traded away James Harden for a reason: to free some cap space.. who in the world would trade away a very good player like Harden? The Thunder wants a player who is a scorer like harden but with a cheaper salary.. and that is Kevin Martin.. Trading away Harden is better than losing him at the end of the season in exchange for nothing like LBJ in Cleveland.. I know since Harden got better and better that one of the OKC core group will leave OKC.. and in the offseason, they signed Ibaka, Perk (not sure though), Westbrook and KD with max contracts. That’s why they have to trade away Harden.. Think first men. NBA has its business side also..

      • blackfire030 says:

        yeah its a business but Martin is a free agent and wont resign for less and he is also making a lot of money right now he isnt cheap by any means me personally and 80% of people would have kept that group at all cost and I mean luxury tax and all that would have been a mighty dynasty

    • KareemoftheKrop says:

      It wasn’t a question of need, it was a question of money. You got the benefit of 3 All Stars all taking pay cuts to play together. Harden wanted a max contract.

      • 34yr fan says:

        …..and should have gotten it…..but, alas, they decided that Serge was more important……..maybe he is……time will tell

    • LBJKIN6JAMES says:

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHA
      YESSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Axe says:

      I thought so as well, but recently I have realised it was a pretty good move. OKC had really good PG, SG and SF + a defensively good but offensively a jump-shooting PF. All in all, we had a very nice backcourt but a dreadful front court with no low-post game. But after that trade we now still have All-star PG and SF but also a young SG with lots of upside who will start contributing the next season. In the front court we still have Ibaka but also a 2013 lottery pick with which the OKC will finally be able to get an offensively reliable centre (OK, it’s a late lottery pick so maybe they have to trade up to get Len or at least Zeller). That way in a year or two, the Thunder will have a young balanced roster with lots of talent. While KD and Russ will still shoulder most of the scoring load, the burden won’t be as heavy + being able to play through the post will make their life much easier. So I think it wasn’t that bad a move under the new CBA circumstances.

      • Sintido kumon says:

        They shoul utilise Perry jones more,he’s way more polished than Ibaka offensively in my opinion…plus,Ibaka should’ve taken the cut on his salary coz no way he’s getting max pay anywhere else in the league…now OKC is realising what they lost in Harden

    • Wow... says:

      heat fan? yea right.. you probably became a heat fan in 2010. You probably dont even know who is tim hardaway and alonzo mourning. I really hate you bandwagoner heat fans.

  107. Roy says:

    I’ve been saying it all along, the Thunder are nothing without Westbrook. Durant can score all he wants but he needs his batman to carry everything else.

    • Ronnie Brewer says:

      Where is Ronnie Brewer?

    • D says:

      His Batman? Are you suggesting that Durant plays second fiddle to Westbrook? You’ve lost any and all credibility you’ve ever had if you’ve ever had any…

      • T says:

        Definition of batman: (Military) an officer’s personal servant in any of the armed forces

  108. MJfromOKC says:

    I didn’t mind the hack Asik, the way the Rockets were playing those possessions would have probably amounted to more points; possibly some 3s or and ones. If Asik would have missed two more FTs and the Thunder would have hit one more basket it would have looked like a good idea. I guarantee that Pop will continue to do this, as he does every post season, when the stakes get higher (no reason to do it against the Lakers if every game is a blowout) and nobody will call him a non contender.

    But you are right the Thunder is a non contender, not for the hack but mainly for lack of defense and lack of options besides KD.

  109. DriveFor5 says:

    Well written. Ibaka and Sefolosha’s scoring can’t be discounted, but it won’t be enough to carry them any further than the conference semis. Clearly KD can’t do it all himself. It’s a shame to see so many injuries this playoffs. If the Spurs make it to the finals, it will still seem sort of hollow, but that’s not to say that I won’t be happy that they made it. GO SPURS GO

  110. Ben says:

    Lest people say they are better off without Westbrook, the proof is in the pudding. They are lucky not to have lost 3 straight since his injury. I am an OKC man, and I mourn the Westbrook injury, but at this point I don’t mourn them going out of the playoffs. I know they can’t win the championship anyway. It’s great to see Durant be such a trooper, but the simple reality is the team can’t function to a high level without RW.

    Houston winning the series would be historic, and although I’ve been hoping for an OKC/Memphis series since 2011, this isn’t exactly the way I would have wanted that rematch to go. A Memphis/Houston series could be interesting too (especially if Lin rejoins the fold).

    • Ken says:

      Ben, I agree with you completely. Don’t we wish that people were still complaining about RW taking too many shots? Seems pretty silly now.

  111. waltwilliams55 says:

    A lot of people on here got mad when I said No Westbrook no finals, the reply was no KD no chip. He is missed.

    • That’s because they have no proper point guard and they can’t stop Harden…if they trade Westbrook with rondo they will still be in the finals

      • Ken says:

        Trading Westbrook for Rondo was never even an option.

        I don’t understand why people refuse to admit how good Westbrook is. I’ve always said that losing Durant or Westbrook would turn this into a totally average team, and that losing Westbrook might even be a bigger blow than losing Durant. These last 3 games would clearly indicate this is indeed the case.

      • NoWESTBROOKnoRING says:

        Rondo is no where near as good as Westbrook. I hate when people say stupid stuff like that. Westbrook dominates anyone in his path. Who can guard him? Kobe couldn’t and he even admitted it. CP3 can’t and he too admits it. Yes WB is a scoring PG! What is wrong with that? Last I checked so was D rose and he gets praised for it. WB is jus a better more atheletic faster ballsier version of D rose. We (OKC) are done. KD can’t do it alone. He lacks that killer instinct WB has. Sad times for OKC fans. Beverly took away any chance we had at a ring this year.

      • WaltWhite says:

        Don’t think Kobe has ever said he can’t guard westbrook…

      • NoWESTBROOKnoRING says:

        @walt white. Yes he did. The last time we beat the lakers….kobe said westbrook got him and he couldn’t stop him that night. He did say I’ll see you next time. Which of course Kobe would say that he’s got a lion heart like WB. I didn’t say Kobe is awesome one of the best ever but fact is he CAN NOT STOP WESTBROOK. NO ONE CAN! He’s too fast and too atheletic. I’m not saying he’s the GOAT or anything….I’m just saying no one guy can stop him

    • Mozgov? says:

      Definitely agreeing with you here. Westbrook is a major reason why the Thunder is so successful, even if he does have a poor shooting night, his flashy dunks and his energy always brings the team up and gives the star power needed to rest Kevin Durant so he can takeover in the fourth.

    • OKCKD35 says:

      Fran, do you ever have anything positive to write about the Thunder, you had nothing to say when they were up 3-0, now with both losses you seem to have plenty to say, biased writers like you are irritating.

      • Phil says:

        Fran was once a writer for the Houston Chronicle sports section, so the bias isn’t too surprising. I am a Houston native and Rockets fan and even I didn’t like the condescending tone of this article.

      • Bob says:

        What was there to say? Game 1 was a decisive win, but they barely escaped with games 2 and 3. Houston has looked like the stronger team for 4 games in a row now.

      • Ken says:

        Dude, I didn’t see a lot of positives in these last two games to write about. The hard, cold truth is that my Thunder is just an average team without Westbrook. Durant is still a superstar but he is now surrounded by players with little speed, little defensive skills, limited ball handling skills, limited energy, below average shooting ability, and almost no ability to penetrate a defense. Westbrook gave us all of that by himself, and now we can’t get that from any combination of others on the roster.

        I already long for the days when people griped about RW taking more shots than KD. Times were good back then.

      • jOLAN says:

        Thats because they were supposed to be up 3-0. Houston coming back shouldnt happen so it is news.

      • Han says:

        And what kind of positive u want to hear for a no 1 seed that lost twice in a row against no 8 (and nearly lost game 3 if not bcoz of that lucky shot)? That they only lost by slim margin? Come on dude, they’re expected to sweep and win by wide margin, not doing this lowly hack Asik tactics. Fran is nowhere near bias to say that OKC lost Westbrook greatly, physically and mentally. That’s the truth.

      • OKCKD35 says:

        Houston has not come back, last time I checked they were down 3-2, To say the thunder had no solutions on offense was just stupid, it was very obvious OKC was just missing open shots, Kmart and Thabo combining to shoot 4-18 and missing wide open looks was the issue, those shots will drop and OKC will advance

    • Floridian says:

      OKC is not as good as last year. If ref saw Ibaka’s pulling in game 3 just before the 3 points OKC made in last minutes, the series could be tied now.Harden is a better team player than Westbrook, and even with Westbrook OKC is very limited this year.

      • OKCKD35 says:

        Even with westbrook they are very limited? How did they obtain the # 1 seed in the West? Obviously it has not been an issue all season long.

    • ThunderUP says:

      hate to say it but they have NO chance witout westbrook.Durant cant score all the points,I agree.

    • Lakers says:

      No Westbrook is definitely NO FINALS for the OKC. Unless Parker is also out for Spurs. But Hack-Asik plan?? if you have to play Hack-a whoever then you’re totally not a contender, it shows lack of confident and a sense of desperation. One thing I dont get is do you really have to Hack a Center? there are many other players on the Rockets that shoot FTs worse than Asik. There is no rule for hacking a player, so why hackk a center???

      • _NJNets_ says:

        The only other player on their team with a worse free throw percentage than Asik is Thomas Robinson, and he hasn’t played at all this series.

      • jake s. says:

        Oh, you mean the same strategy Greg Popovich used on Dwight howard? The same Greg Popovich that has multiple championship rings? By the way, Asik is their second worst free throw player. Im going to have to ask you to think before you speak.

      • OKCKD35 says:

        hmmmm see last year, hack a splitter, OKc advances to finals………

    • Andre says:

      Westbrook is good. I always complained about him because he is dumb and has no BBIQ, but he is good no matter what. He’s probably the more talented/athletic PG in the league, but his lack of inteligence hurts him a little. Saying he is dumb and saying he could be better is not saying he’s bad. It just means that he is not matching his potential.

      IMO, he could be the best PG in the league and is a top3-5 (what’s also good) because of poor shot selection and for being a ball hog.

      OKC needs him. He is a superstar, he can give hell to a lot of PG, like Chalmers, Conley, Parker. Without him, it’s just so easy to guard the whole OKC team, except for Durant.

    • Sid says:

      KD what a ball hog – like Kobe – 23 attempts -what a ball hog – get rid of him

    • rondobetterthanwestbrook says:

      rondo is way better than westbrook.Sure, Westbrook is more explosive but not as crafty and smart as Rondo. Westbrook can’t play half court when things slow down. Rondo won a championship. Westbrook couldn’t win 2 games in the finals. latesz