Trans. May 16 2:05 ET (May 16 2:05 ET ) With every season that ends, for the playoff teams at least, we felt it right to take a look ahead. TNT already has the rights to "Gone Fishin'," and because we're sure that someone, somewhere, still likes that Wyclef song, we're going with "Gone Till November." And, yes, we know the season starts in October. Today? The Oklahoma City Thunder.
Russell Westbrook’s knee injury may have cost his team an NBA title this season, but it could also go a long way towards saving coach and general manager Sam Presti a whole heck of a lot of criticism. To some Oklahoma City Thunder fans, that statement is just piling bad on top of bad.
Scorn for Brooks’ abilities date back two years at this point, and whether they come in the form of complaining about his limited mid-playoff adjustments or overreliance on certain vets, he’s taken quite a bit of heat following two straight five-game finishes to seasons in 2012 and now 2013. Presti, meanwhile, will receive tempered but certain criticism for his choices to ostensibly value contract extensions for Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka over one for Houston Rocket All-Star James Harden.
Both will be back next year, though. Brooks just finished the first year of a four year contract, and Presti has done so well in his first six years with the team that he’s earned several more years of goodwill. Both admirably and staunchly defended themselves (and by extension, the team’s owners) in the wake of the deal that sent James Harden to Houston, allowing for the team’s ownership to skate in the face of paying the luxury tax. On top of that, Westbrook’s season ending injury allows for most to consider the 2012-13 team a once-again championship contender that was just felled by bad luck at the worst possible time.
When the Memphis Grizzlies traded small forward Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors in late January, one of the criticisms of the deal was that they had sacrificed much needed scoring and wing athleticism for the more virtual gain of long-term financial health. Veteran Tayshaun Prince, his replacement, was considered a good player on the wrong side of his career.
The Grizzlies' post-trade performance has silenced most critics, but it's still the case that Prince isn't thought of as an athletic dynamo. On Wednesday night, in Game 5 of the Grizzlies' Western Conference Semifinals series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Prince proved that his athleticism deserves some notice.
With just over 7:10 left in the third quarter, Memphis point guard turned a long rebound into a 4-on-3 fast break. Although the numbers were roughly even, Prince found a seam down the middle of the floor, took the pass a step outside the free-throw line, and exploded over three Thunder players for one of the flashiest plays of the playoffs so far. Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefolosha, and Reggie Jackson have all seen better days.
May 13 (The Sports Xchange) - Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen and Miami Heat forward LeBron James highlight the NBA All-Defensive First Team. The NBA announced Monday that Allen received 53 points in the voting while James tallied 52. Each player earned 25 First Team votes. Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (37 points, 15 First Team votes), Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (46, 17), New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler (24, nine) and Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (24, right) rounded out the first team. ...
The All-NBA Defensive Team is the perfect honor for a player like Tony Allen. In the grand history of Bobby Jones, T.R. Dunn, and Scottie Pippen, Allen is the type of all-world defender that will never probably win a Defensive Player of the Year award. Because he does his work on the wing, Allen’s in-between game will never be realized along the same lines as someone like, say, teammate and 2012-13 Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol. It’s just not in the cards for the in-between guys.
Of course, becoming the Defensive Player of the Year is no quick invite to the All-Defensive Team. For the second straight year, the DPoY lost out on a place with the top team, as Gasol fell to the second (and nearly third) team in favor of Joakim Noah and Tyson Chandler. Noah and Chandler (who took in the same lack of All-Defensive recognition as Gasol did, during 2011-12’s vote), tied for the top spot on in the pivot position on the top team, alongside Allen, Oklahoma City shot blocker Serge Ibaka, LeBron James, and Clippers guard Chris Paul.
Yeah. We’re a little confused too.