- Kobe Bryant would have been better served keeping his comments about Pau Gasol’s “assertiveness” to himself (or at least in house), following the Lakers Game 4 loss on Saturday. Bryant’s post game comments stemmed from Gasol’s crucial turnover in the closing seconds of the Thunder’s Game 4 victory on Saturday evening. A couple thoughts here. First, Bryant should’ve never given the ball up to Gasol. TNT analyst Reggie Miller made a great point immediately following Kevin Durant’s 25 footer with 13 seconds remaining (this was the next play following the Gasol turnover). Miller simply stated that one of the best closers in the game (which Bryant certainly is) should never give the ball up in that type of late game scenario, especially to your big man on the perimeter. Bryant chose to put the onus on Gasol, whereas Durant chose to relish the responsibility himself. Bottom line, Durant delivered and Bryant did not. Finally, Bryant is just as responsible for the Lakers 3-1 series deficit as anyone, performing miserably in the 4th quarter against the Thunder. Kobe shot just 2 of 10 in the fourth quarter on Saturday, throwing up some extremely questionable shots (missed on at least three 20 footers if my memory serves me well). For the series, Bryant is only converting 28% of his shots (7/25) in 4th quarter play.
- If the Spurs weren’t the favorite to capture the Larry O’Brien trophy before the post season started, they certainly have emerged as just that following their second consecutive series sweep last night (18th win a row dating back to the regular season). Consider this, the Spurs are outshooting their opponents by nearly 8% from the field in these playoffs (49.1%-Spurs vs. 41.5%-Opponents). The Thunder are the only other remaining playoff team that is outshooting their opponents by at least 5% during these playoffs (+5.7%).
Spurs Win the 18th Game in Row and Sweep the Clippers
- James Harden will certainly be thankful when (and if) the Thunder advance past the Lakers. Harden has primarily been matched up with Kobe Bryant during the series, and although he has done an admirable job defending Bryant, his offensive game has struggled as a result. In his two games at Staples Center, Harden shot just 25% from the field (6/24), and was the recipient of some rather curious fouls on Bryant (not uncommon). Harden will look to get back on track at Chesapeake Energy Arena tonight. During the regular season, James shot 10% higher from the field during home games (54.7%), as opposed to road games (44.1%).
- Before entering the game at the 2:39 mark of the second quarter yesterday, Dwayne Wade was experiencing arguably the worst 6 quarter stretch of his NBA career (certainly of recent memory). Wade shot a dismal 3 for 21 during Game 3, as well as the first two quarters of Game 4 (until he entered back in for Mike Miller at the 2:39 mark). It wasn’t only Wade’s offensive ineffectiveness that was puzzling during this stretch, it was also his general demeanor while on the court (and on the bench for that matter). Dwayne seemed, by and large, disinterested and displayed a negative vibe which reflected poorly on himself and the team. Wade would score seven points in the final 2:39 of the second quarter, and connected on 12 of his next 15 shot attempts. Heat fans are certainly hoping that Wade’s brief ineffectiveness was nothing more than an aberration.
Dwayne Wade Delivers for the Heat in a Crucial Game 4 Win
- Talk about seizing the moment, Kevin Durant has been brilliant during 4th quarter play of these playoffs. Durant is shooting an impressive 54% during the final quarter of this postseason. Even more impressive, with two minutes or less remaining on the clock, Durant is shooting an astounding 77% from the field (7/9). Durant’s unique blend of size and speed make it almost impossible for opposing defenders to alter his shot. Is there anybody else in the playoffs who you trust more than Durant at crunch time? I certainly don’t.
Mr. Clutch Delivers Again…
- Pacers head coach Frank Vogel might want to consider extending Darren Collison’s minutes the rest of the playoffs. The Pacers seem to play at another speed when Collison is on the floor. He is fearless pushing the ball and attacking the rim, and quite frankly, the Heat just don’t have anyone to match up with him. In his last seven playoff games, Collison is shooting a ridiculous 62% from the field (31/50). During that same timeframe, he is only averaging 19 minutes per game. Vogel must find a way to get him on the court more.
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