Thursday, May 16, 2013

Requiem For Westbrook Haters

Now that the #1 seeded Oklahoma City Thunder -- sans the injured Russell Westbrook -- have been unceremoniously bounced from the 2013 playoffs, much earlier and much easier than anyone would've predicted back in April, Skippy Clueless and his minions of Russell Westbrook haters can now collect their dunce caps and go fold up in a corner under the weight of their own stupidity.

Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and the Lessons...

"Durant has been as good as ever in these playoffs, taking the ball in his hands more than ever. But the rest of the Thunder can't crack the Grizzlies' defense enough to get OKC wins. The next time you question the value of Westbrook taking so many shots, remember this series. Remember that Durant needs help (like every other NBA star in history), and remember that this team is not built to provide that absent Westbrook. Maybe that's a retroactive argument against trading James Harden , who can handle more than Martin. But this is the team OKC has now, and it needs Russ desperately."

Lessons of a Russ-less Thunder:

And there's something else the Thunder have been missing without their leader: his passion, his heart, his desire, his unquestionably indomitable will to win. His hunger and drive is something that can't replaced by anyone in the league. As is typical of their ilk, detractorshaters love to concentrate on the 10% bad and ignore the 90% good, as if there is or has ever been a perfect player in NBA history.

The Thunder need Russell Westbrook to be a top-flight NBA team. Always have. And that has never been on greater display than over the past month.

Get used to it. I can only hope that your blind hatred dies a silent death in that corner along with your ignorance of every basic and advanced measure of Westbrook's positive contributions and importance to OKC's young greatness.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bizarro Coaching

I was all set to detail all of the coaching atrocities committed by a certain coach in Game 4 of the Knicks/Pacers Eastern Conference Semifinals series.  But alas, a couple of writers -- among the many that rightfully ripped Knick coach Mike Woodson's moves to shreds -- have done a superb job pointing out everything wrong that happened last night.  So, I shall defer to their articles in lieu of reinventing the wheel:

Honestly, couldn't have said it any better than said in the above.  To boot:

* The Problem: The Knicks have had trouble scoring.  The Facts: The Knicks have posted their best offensive AND defensive efficiency numbers this season in lineups that include Pablo Prigioni.  He has the best plus/minus ratio of any Knick in the playoffs.  He was so good during game 2's tremendous 36-4 run that Madison Square Garden was chanting "Pablo...Pablo" in deafening unison.  The Move?  Bench Pablo, play him 3 minutes, 26 seconds.  The Result: The Knicks have trouble scoring.

* The Problem: The Knicks have been outbounded.  The Facts: The Pacers are the best rebounding team in the league, based on rebounding rate.  The Knicks, an average rebounding team all year long, actually rebound the ball at a worse rate when Kenyon Martin is on the court.  The Move?  Insert Martin into the lineup in hopes of improving rebounding.  The Result: The Knicks get outrebounded.  Duh.

This is merely just a sampling.  Again, ingest all the spot-on analysis given in the two articles above, particularly the Bleacher Report article.

Those of us in the non-Bizarro realm are left scratching our heads at the moves that rank anywhere from puzzling to destined-for-failure to downright asinine.  I personally want to add one theory however:  Mike Woodson is originally from Indiana.  The Knicks are playing a team based in Indiana.  Could this be a case of a double-agent saboteur?

Ridiculous you say?  Actually, I agree.  However, I would just like to point out one thing: that completely hair-brained theory is no less ridiculous than the set of puzzling moves we saw all throughout game 4.  Not to mention, it would provide a much sounder explanation for making them than anything I can think of.

Actually, I kid.  The obvious analysis is that Woodson panicked, and reverted back to trying any and everything listed in his dog-eared copy of Basketball 101 For Dummies.  "We're being outrebounded! Shriek! Get me a big guy!"  "They've got big guys in the paint! Egads! Let's go big!"

It's rather alarming that Woodson, a coach with so many years under his belt, could perform so terribly under the bright lights and stress of an insurmountable 2-1 deficit.  Yes, that was sarcasm.  It's completely alarming that he would panic under such conditions.

Let's just hope this was a temporary state of unconsciousness, and that Coach Woody will actually remember everything that got us to this point in the season.  Fingers crossed...but someone tap his phone and check for Swiss bank account deposits, just in case.