NTTB Rumblings – 16 April 2018

img_4063Royce Young (ESPN) on Paul George’s performance in Game 1: “And in a matchup against the Jazz, a team centered on a rookie, the Thunder entered with the two best players in the series. That’s normally a pretty good indication of who should win, but with inconsistency being the buzzword that has followed the Thunder all season, nothing was clear. There was always this idea that they were built for the postseason, with top-shelf talent ready to shine when the games mattered most, but the Thunder never established anything steady. They entered the playoffs a wild card — dangerous but unknown.”

Nick Gallo (OKCThunder.com) recaps the Thunder’s Game 1 victory: “The Thunder also couldn’t have scripted a better first possession of the game. A trap down on the baseline led to a desperate Jazz pass back into the middle of the floor, and George was there to pick it off cleanly. George was off to the races and it resulted in a Russell Westbrook 3-on-1 fast break dunk. For the next 5 minutes after that, however, nothing went right for the Thunder. Some mediocre shot selection, some mismanaged transition defense and hot shooting by the Jazz led to a quick 16-4 start for the Jazz, forcing a Thunder timeout.”

AJ Neuharth-Keusch (USA Today) on what should be a resolution to the Brian Davis controversy: “He definitely came in and talked to us,” Westbrook said. “The team has made a decision to do what they need to do and we’re just gonna move on from it.”

Gideon Lim (Thunderous Intentions) on how Russell Westbrook’s defensive rebounding ability will help against the Jazz: “Utah represents a conundrum for the Thunder. OKC’s half-court offense will likely struggle against the Jazz’s top-ranked defense. This means the Thunder need to ramp up pace to find easy transition baskets. The problem? the Utah Jazz are one of the best in the game at slowing the pace down.”

Jonathan Tjarks (The Ringer) on the Paul George Playoff Experience: “Utah had no answer for him on Sunday. There’s not much any defender can do when a player as big as George (6-foot-9 and 220 pounds with a 6-foot-11 wingspan) can raise up off the dribble and knock down 3s. He probably won’t shoot 8-for-11 from 3 again in this series, but there’s no reason to expect him to cool down much when he shot 40.1 percent from 3 on 7.7 attempts per game this season. George is one of the best pure shooters in the NBA. He was behind only James Harden in total 3s made, and behind only Klay Thompson in 3-point percentage among players in the top 15 of total attempts.”

Berry Tramel (NewsOK) on how the Thunder’s ability to make tough shots opened things up for them in Game 1: “And just to be sure, the old Thunder staple — Russell Westbrook lobbing to Steven Adams for rim-rattling dunks — soon followed on back-to-back plays that gave OKC a 104-91 lead with 4:23 to go. This game featured the best of the Thunder. Offense featuring quality movement and passes. And great individual talent when the ball doesn’t move and the defense doesn’t give.”

Jenni Carlson (NewsOK) on the Thunder flipping the switch and whether it can be sustained: “That was a theme Donovan went back to repeatedly in his postgame press conference. And who can blame him? He’s had a front-row seat for this team’s inconsistencies. He’s seen great games followed by disastrous ones. He’s seen brilliance followed by ineptitude. Just because the switch was flipped in Game 1 doesn’t mean it will stay in the “ON” position in Game 2.”

Tramel (NewsOK) with some grades for the game: “Billy Donovan went with a limited bench. Terrance Ferguson played just 2:29. Patrick Patterson played only 7:46. But Alex Abrines, Jerami Grant and Raymond Felton were excellent in their time on the court. Their offense was solid — 7-of-15 shooting — but their general play was even better. The Thunder outscored Utah by 14 points in Abrines’ 21 minutes on the court. Grant was plus-12 in 14 minutes. Felton was plus-9 in 12 minutes. The Thunder is hard to beat when the bench helps extend leads.”

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