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Tag: Russell Westbrook (page 1 of 2)

Andrew Schlecht: Thunder Have No Offensive Identity Yet

With the addition of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook is “really trying to adjust his game,” according to our guest, Andrew Schlecht (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

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The Oklahoma City Thunder turned heads around the NBA this offseason when they added stars Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. So far, though, integrating them into the team hasn’t been a smooth process. Before back-to-back wins against the Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks, they had been riding a four-game losing streak and were winless against the Western Conference. Andrew Schlecht, host of the Down to Dunk and OKC Dream Team podcasts and contributor to Daily Thunder, joined us to try to diagnose what exactly has gone wrong and whether or not the Thunder should be worried. See what we’re rumbling about in these electric excerpts below (all time stamps approximate):

5:00-5:40: “Overall, there doesn’t seem to be any worry or panic within the team at all. They’re still pretty casual about everything. And then as a fan and somebody who’s watching them, you just have to wait. Even a team with some continuity will evolve over a season. So, there’s not a lot of worry. The team has a ton of talent, they’ve got talent on both sides of the ball, so you’d think they’re going to put it together. Luckily, really besides the Warriors and Rockets, there’s nobody that’s so far ahead of them in the Western Conference that the four or three seed are out of reach. So, they have that on their side.”

9:00-9:40: “They’ve relied heavily on isolation in all of their losses. I think that they can look at all those and say, ‘Wow, that did not work.’ The ball did not move. Basically, if you could not create your own shot, or if your name wasn’t Steven Adams, you weren’t going to touch the ball for any meaningful time. Continue reading

Ward-Henninger (Western Conference Preview): OKC Has “Operation Shutdown Potential”

Russell Westbrook will be looking to follow up on his MVP season alongside the Thunder’s two high-profile offseason acquisitions, but guest Colin Ward-Henninger foresees chemistry challenges ahead (Keith Allison/Flickr).

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Colin Ward-Henninger of CBSSports.com helps preview the talent-loaded Western Conference after an action-packed offseason replete with key player movement.

8:54-9:52: “Paul George actually had a higher usage rate and more touches than Melo last year, and we all know what Russ [Westbrook] does on the court. And he had a hard enough time playing with Durant, and then when Durant left, we saw the madness that happened last year with just the NBA record usage rate of like 40 percent or something like that, which is insane, and it’s hard to just turn that off. I think it’s going to take a while…I think it’s going to be very difficult. I think that Paul George is going to have the hardest time adjusting, because I think he’s going to be the one who’s expected to take fewer shots. Melo, we hope at this stage in his career understands that he’s not the No. 1 guy or even the No. 2 guy in this case, but you never know. And these are two guys that can opt out of their contracts, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. So if they get 20 games into the season and they don’t like playing with Russ, there’s some Operation Shutdown potential there.” Continue reading

Rest for the Weary in Today’s NBA

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers both did not play during a recent national TV game against the Clippers, prompting a memo by Commissioner Silver about the issue. (Erik Drost/Flickr)

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Resting healthy starters is not exactly a new phenomenon, as LeBron James recently pointed out; heck, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has been doing it for more than a decade. However, there hasn’t been a time in NBA history where the practice has stirred up such a high level of controversy and discontent. The panel aims to explore the issue from the perspectives of the commissioner, NBA coaches, current and former players and, of course, the fans. Be sure to get your rest in advance of the stretch run (we won’t blame you for taking care of yourself), but don’t sleep on this episode. Just don’t do it.

Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod

Defense Propels 76ers Nine Spots (Power Rankings: Jan. 20, 2017 Edition)

Coach Brett Brown and his Sixers are finally starting to see results, with wins in seven of their last nine games (TastyPoutine/Creative Commons).

With every team at or beyond the midpoint of its regular-season schedule, it could not be a better time to assess how each squad measures up. Some teams will be celebrating All-Star starter selections just named, while many others are confronting serious injuries. Amid this crazy time, the 76ers jumped nine slots, leaving the league’s cellar thanks to a mighty strong start to 2017. Meanwhile, the Charlotte Hornets, Sacramento Kings and Orlando Magic have experienced the league’s steepest declines in recent weeks.

Biggest Jumps: Philadelphia 76ers (+9), Washington Wizards (+4), Detroit Pistons (+4), Denver Nuggets (+4)

Biggest Falls: Sacramento Kings (-8), Charlotte Hornets (-8), Orlando Magic (-7)
Continue reading

Jeff Garcia: Kawhi Leonard “Lurking in the Shadows” of MVP Race

Jeff, a longtime Spurs reporter, discusses Gregg Popovich’s dominant, yet under-appreciated, squad in this exhilarating episode.

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Amid all the talk of a potential third straight Cavaliers-Warriors Finals matchup and a statistically historic MVP race between Russell Westbrook and James Harden, the San Antonio Spurs have quietly continued their dominance, on pace for 64 wins in the first season of the post-Tim Duncan era. Jeff Garcia, lead Spurs writer for News 4 San Antonio and Fox 29 San Antonio, as well as the host of the Locked on Spurs podcast, joins us to explain why the Spurs, as always, are perfectly content to stay below the national radar until the playoffs, and how their quiet, humble star, Kawhi Leonard, embodies that mentality. He also takes us through how, in recent years, the team has been able to transition seamlessly from a slow, grinding offense to the faster-paced, efficient one we’re seeing now. Among additional fascinating topics, Jeff tackles impressive backup point guard Patrick Mills’ impending unrestricted free agency. Particularly, will the Spurs pay to keep Mills in town and/or make him the starter over Tony Parker? Read more for our favorite excerpts from Jeff:

3:31-4:35Despite their recent success, the Spurs are perennially ignored by the national media. Jeff explains why and if it matters:

“They just get the job done, and that can get boring at times. It’s like they say: ‘death, taxes, and Spurs’…They’re sitting at 32-9. They are a defensive animal. They’re an offensive animal. But yet, overlooked…Does it really matter? Because as long as this team is jiving at the right point [and] is heading into the postseason on the right foot, has a good rhythm, they’re going to get their national media attention, and hopefully that’s going to come late June when they’re hoisting up another trophy.”

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Hawks Grounded, While Giannis and the Bucks Soar (Power Rankings: Dec. 9, 2016 Edition)

The Hawks earned a 13-spot demotion by struggling mightily after storming out of the gates with a 9-2 start (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

Due to stellar play from the Rockets, Jazz, Thunder and Celtics, the red-hot Grizzlies actually dropped a couple slots. The panel was indeed impressed by Memphis’ ability to win five of its last six games without Mike Conley Jr. on the court; it’s just those other teams were deemed to be even better. On the other side of the coin, the Hawks have been dreadful for nearly three weeks now and are paying for it by falling precipitously in this edition. Their 13-place drop on our list may be awfully difficult for teams to “beat” in future rankings.

Biggest Jumps: Milwaukee Bucks (+8), Orlando Magic (+7), Oklahoma City Thunder (+6)

Biggest Drops: Atlanta Hawks (-13), Chicago Bulls (-10), Denver Nuggets (-9), New Orleans Pelicans (-7), Los Angeles Lakers (-7)

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The Clippers’ Suffocating Defense Earns Top Spot (Power Rankings: Nov. 11, 2016 Edition)

In the debut of On the NBA Beat’s biweekly (the every-other-week kind) NBA power rankings feature, Doc Rivers’ Los Angeles Clippers lead the field, four Eastern Conference teams rank in the top seven spots, Los Angeles’ other team cracks the top half, the “no-longer-tanking” 76ers occupy the last spot, and so much more.

Our three panelists, Loren Lee Chen, Aaron Fischman and Joshua Fischman, independently ranked the league’s 30 teams from top to bottom. Their averaged rankings produced this 1-30 list and took into account all NBA regular-season games up until and including Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. Therefore, the results of Thursday’s four games will not be reflected in these rankings, but the blurbs and team records will be completely up-to-date. Future editions will also include each team’s net change from the previous rankings.

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Marina Mangiaracina: Thunder “Need Roberson Out There to Stop Klay” in Game 7 vs. Warriors

Foul trouble limited Andre Roberson to 29 minutes in Game 6, as Klay Thompson erupted for 41 points (Erik Drost/Creative Commons).

Foul trouble limited Andre Roberson to 29 minutes in Game 6, as Klay Thompson erupted for 41 points (Erik Drost/Creative Commons).

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Despite Oklahoma City’s Game 6 collapse and squandering of a 3-1 series lead, Welcome to Loud City‘s Marina Mangiaracina explains why the Thunder stand a legitimate chance of upsetting the mighty Golden State Warriors in a decisive Game 7. Her prescription? Lots of minor adjustments, which include extra shots for Dion Waiters and Serge Ibaka, smarter defensive switching and Andre Roberson logging more court time to help counteract Klay Thompson’s explosive scoring. Below are some noteworthy excerpts:

1:59 –2:26: “I think the No. 1 key is getting more shots for Serge Ibaka and Dion Waiters. Waiters had about the same amount of shots (in Game 6) – five or six – that (Andre) Roberson and (Steven) Adams had, and given his offensive abilities, it’s an embarrassment that he’s getting so few opportunities…(Kevin) Durant and (Russell) Westbrook were just taking too many bad shots. When you move the ball around more, it helps out.” Continue reading

Andy Liu: Warriors Should “Put Draymond Green at Center, Speed Everything Up” vs. Thunder

Andy Liu advocates for more use of the small ball that got the Warriors this far to begin with (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

Andy Liu advocates for more use of the small ball that got the Warriors this far to begin with (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

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The mighty, 73-win, defending champion Golden State Warriors squandered a 13-point halftime lead, as the Oklahoma City Thunder stole Game 1 at Oracle Arena Monday night. While Golden State of Mind‘s Andy Liu admits the Thunder are playing their strongest basketball at the most ideal time, he believes the Warriors and Stephen Curry will have enough to get through to the Finals. He does, however, express concern over the MVP’s health, Golden State’s shot selection and which coach is currently doing the better job. Entertaining, informative segments have been transcribed below:

1:46-3:22: “They (the Warriors) should probably panic – like a controlled panic obviously. We don’t want (head coach) Steve Kerr to suddenly start making wholesale schematic changes. It’s not like they lost by 30… If Steph was 100 percent healthy, I think that he would’ve bailed them out last night, which would’ve been fine, but moving forward I don’t think he’s gonna get to 100 percent for the rest of the playoffs. So it’s a matter of ‘Can he play at 80, 85 percent and still carry this offense when it counts throughout the rest of the series?’”

4:30-4:49: “It’s just a matter of ‘How are they going to do it (start strong) again in Game 2, and then when OKC comes back and hits them, are they gonna lose composure again?’ You would believe that a championship team like this wouldn’t lose composure like that again, but, hey, OKC’s already done this to the Spurs three straight games; that was super-impressive.” Continue reading

Down Goes Durant, the Combustible Kings and Kawhi Wait for Superstardom

This season, Kawhi Leonard has shouldered much of the Spurs' scoring load in addition to playing tenacious defense (Mark Runyon/BasketballSchedule.net)

This season, Kawhi Leonard has shouldered much of the Spurs’ scoring load in addition to playing tenacious defense (Mark Runyon/BasketballSchedule.net)

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In this action-packed episode, the guys reflect on the state of the Oklahoma City Thunder, particularly given Kevin Durant’s hamstring strain. Later, the trio celebrates the emergence of 24-year-old Kawhi Leonard as a bona fide offensive star and explores what in the hell is going on in Sacramento these days. Should George Karl lose his job this early in the season? Can the damage be undone? The OTNB boys are on the case.   

Music: “Who Likes To Party” by Kevin MacLeod

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