Tag Archives: Russell Westbrook

Thunder youth movement

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. With yesterday’s Serge Ibaka contract extension, the Oklahoma City Thunder youth movement continues.

By Josh Kramer

Most of the attention regarding the Western Conference this off-season has been focused on the newly revamped Los Angeles Lakers.  Rightfully so.  In adding two-time MVP Steve Nash and the best center in the NBA, it appears Kobe has the pieces in place to nab #6.  But who won the Western Conference championship last year though?  Who went to the Western Conference finals the year before? Oh yeah, that team out of Oklahoma City.  With yesterday’s four-year contract extension of 22-year-old swat team captain Serge Ibaka, the youth movement continues on in OKC.

In this day and age defined by free agency, blockbuster deals, and unhappy players, core groups rarely stay together for an extended period of time.  Oklahoma City is looking to defy the odds and build a dynasty out of a group of guys that they drafted, molded, and groomed. Continue reading

Weekly Nickel 6-11-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Will Rafael Nadal (pictured above) make history today and break Bjorn Borg’s record with a 7th French Open Championship?

By Josh Kramer

Thank you, may I have another?  So I’ll Have another was unable to compete in the Belmont Saturday.  As usual, the race did not disappoint nor did the entire week in sports.  The playoffs are all about the finals now as there are only two teams remaining in both the NBA and NHL playoffs.  Plus the French Open is not quite done yet.  Last week was great, but this one will be good in its own right.  Here are the events to keep an eye on.

5.  Rain, rain, go away.  Or keep the French Open going another day.  Maria Sharapova became the tenth woman to complete the career Grand Slam on Saturday.  Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are all looking to further stamp their imprint on history as the fourth set of the Men’s final continues this morning.  I would highly recommend waking up and checking this out now on NBC. Continue reading

Food for Thought 6-5-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. The two best bench players in the NBA put on quite a show last night. James Harden (left) hit the big shot in the end though to help the Thunder go up 3 to 2 in the Western Conference Finals

By Josh Kramer

We could quite possibly be watching history in the making in regards to NBA Playoff basketball.  94% of teams that have gone up 2 to 0 in best-of-seven NBA series have gone on to take the series.  Only 14 teams in NBA history have ever climbed out of a 2 to 0 hole to win a best-of-seven game series.  Both conference finals series began with the higher seed taking a 2 to 0 lead.  Things appeared to be over.  Then both lower seeded teams miraculously defended their home floors (and OKC won one on the road last night).

Can Boston and/or Oklahoma City pull off the unthinkable?  Oklahoma City can.  Yes, I am going to keep doubting San Antonio.  I wouldn’t count on it from Boston.  The Thunder have been the team to watch out West all year.  Despite a very slow start in the conference finals, their bigs (Ibaka namely) awoke in Game 4 and James Harden hit the shot of the year in Game 5.  Remember, Westbrook and Harden combined for a mere 18 points on Saturday.  OKC still won.  Last night, the OKC bigs, Ibaka and Perkins combined for just 13 points.  OKC still won.  The Thunder will knock off the Spurs and become team number 15 to climb out of a 2 to 0 hole. Continue reading

Food for Thought 5-29-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Manu Ginobli (pictured above) stole the show in Game 1. Will OKC slow down the streaking Spurs tonight?

By Josh Kramer

Continue to doubt the Spurs.  I know that I have.  19 victories in a row is no fluke.  Not to mention that nine of them have occurred during playoff basketball.  Through three quarters on Sunday night, it looked as if the Thunder were on their way to making a major statement, and negating San Antonio’s home-court advantage.  Instead, San Antonio came out firing on all cylinders in the fourth court, denying OKC a major opportunity.  Sunday was as prime example of why no game is every over until the final horn sounds.  Now history is against the Thunder who lost in the conference finals last year as well.

First of all, winners of Game 1 in the conference finals have gone on to win the series 80% of the time.  Secondly, San Antonio became the fourth team in NBA history to start the playoffs with nine straight victories.  All of the previous three advanced to the NBA finals with two taking home the championship.  Thirdly, the Thunder outplayed the Spurs for well over three/fourths of the game and still lost.  Scott Brooks has to be scratching his head still as to what happened late Sunday night.

Manu Ginobli was the difference maker as he has been for the better part of a decade now.  How many players can come off the bench and influence a playoff basketball game the way he can?  Not many, though James Harden, OKC’s bench star, can really play.  Also, OKC has to find a way to get some point production out of their bigs.  The Spurs cleaned up in the paint, outscoring the Thunder 50 to 26.

Despite all of my rambling, I still like the Thunder to take this series in the end.  There is something about this young and exciting group out of OKC that has really caught my eye.  The “Big Three” of Durant, Westbrook, and Harden will not be denied two years in a row.  They are far too good and determined to let that happen.  Look for an inspired effort tonight from Russell Westbrook after a less than stellar Game 1 performance.  The majority of the country wants a Thunder versus Heat finals matchup.  With a victory tonight, the Thunder will really increase the likelihood of this dream matchup coming to fruition. Continue reading

Dream matchup before dream matchup

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. The point guard matchup in the Western Conference finals between Russell Westbrook (pictured above) and Tony Parker should be one for the ages.

By Josh Kramer

Let’s not beat around the bush. The Western Conference semifinals were a major bust.  The city of Los Angeles (Clippers and Lakers) was entirely overmatched and mustered up one total victory.  Now, the matchup everyone has been waiting for in the Wild Wild West is set.  Who isn’t excited for the Spurs/Thunder showdown set to start on Sunday?

Not only did the supposedly “over the hill” San Antonio Spurs tie for the best record in the NBA, they also have won 18 straight games.  The Oklahoma City Thunder are coming off an emphatic thrashing of the Los Angeles Lakers.  OKC has been the favorite all year long out West, and lived up to the part until the final couple of weeks of the season when San Antonio leapfrogged them for the number one seed.  So despite San Antonio possessing the number one seed and cruising through the first two rounds, all records get tossed out the window.  The score is 0 to 0 come Sunday.

Not only did the Spurs and Thunder finish 2nd and 3rd in the NBA in terms of scoring offense this season, they also finished 16th and 17th in terms of scoring defense.  These teams put up frighteningly similar statistics during the course of the 66 game shortened season.  Can you say seven game series?

Flip a coin on what “Big Three” is better.  On one hand, San Antonio has the old-school trifecta featuring Parker, Duncan, and Ginobli.  On the other hand, OKC has a terrific trio in Westbrook, Durant, and Harden.  This series will start and end at the point guard position though. Tony Parker versus Russell Westbrook. Continue reading

Dream Matchup

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. There is no better matchup in the NBA today than LeBron James (left) versus Kevin Durant (right).

By Josh Kramer

LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook, Chris Bosh, and James Harden.  Fathom that for a moment. I vote Miami Heat versus Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals 2012. After watching Wednesday night’s throwdown in South Beach, you would be extremely hard pressed to create a better matchup in the present.  Now I am fully aware the Chicago Bulls currently possess the best record in basketball, despite the prolonged absence of their star.  But let’s get serious.  Unless you are a Chicago Bulls fan, a James/Durant battle over the course of a seven game series would be as good as it gets (yes, even better than James versus Bryant).

The NBA has and will always be about entertainment.  In other words, people want to see high scoring shootouts.  Both OKC and Miami can score with the best of them.  The Bulls win with an old-school fashion, relying heavily on rebounding and defense.  What fun is that to watch?  No two teams feature greater star power than Miami and OKC.  Find me a better duo than James/Wade or Durant/Westbrook.  How about a better trio than James/Wade/Bosh or Durant/Westbrook/Harden.  In 2012, there are none. Continue reading

Weekly Nickel 3-26-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Led by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis (pictured above), there is little doubt that UK will be cutting down the nets next Monday night.

By Josh Kramer

A Final Four finally emerged.  Tiger Woods did his best Mariano Rivera impression.  Tim Tebow took his talents to Broadway. And South Beach brought the heat in terms of tennis.  Last week was a great one that will not soon be forgotten, but this one is poised to be pretty epic in its own right.  Here are the events to keep an eye on.

5.  Canada’s favorite pastime is still going strong as the regular season nears a close.  There are eight or fewer games remaining for every team in the NHL.  And we all remember last year’s insanely unpredictable playoffs that made Game 7’s seem like a given.  Both Boston and Vancouver are once again heavy contenders to hoist Lord Stanley come June, but New York and St. Louis appear to be in pretty good shape in their own right.  My eyes will be focused on a colossal showdown in the nation’s capital on Tuesday. Continue reading