Ethan Norof

Basketball Daily Dose

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Dose: Klay's Kingdom

Sunday, May 29, 2016


The biggest game in Oklahoma City Thunder history—and the most anticipated contest of the 2016 postseason to date—will be played on Monday night.

 

Following a stunning Game 6 comeback that saw Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry and the Warriors go full throttle in the fourth quarter, there will be a Game 7 played at Oracle Arena. And it’s going to be loud.

 

It could be Kevin Durant’s last game playing in a Thunder jersey. It could be the end of Golden State’s historic road. It will be a defining moment for both teams involved, and there will be a berth to the 2016 NBA Finals at stake.

 

If a Money in the Bank ladder match was executed inside of a steel cage, it might—just maybe—come close to matching the intensity that we’ll certainly see on Memorial Day.

 

Golden State @ Oklahoma City: Warriors 108, Thunder 101

Warriors and Thunder series tied, 3-3.

 

Studs: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green; Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson

 

Duds: Dion Waiters

 

Injuries: Kevon Looney (hip surgery)

 

Stephen Curry is going to get a ton of credit for stealing the show down the stretch, but this win wouldn’t have been possible without Klay Thompson. Registering a historic performance with a playoff record 11 triples made (!), Thompson fired ballistic missiles from distance all night long, finishing with a sizzling 41 points on an incendiary 11-of-18 from behind the 3-point line. Thompson (too often) takes a backseat to the two-time MVP, but make no mistake about it: Klay is a two-way superstar capable of alpha dog status on any NBA team. It’s rare that a line like Curry’s—a near triple-double with 29 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists, two steals and six 3-pointers—gets second billing in an elimination game that his team had to have, but Thompson’s transcendent performance stood alone in the Saturday spotlight.

 

Draymond Green was back to doing Draymond Green things with a stat-stuffing line of 14 points, 12 boards, six dimes, three steals, two treys and a block, and Andre Iguodala was again the unsung hero—a role he’s played masterfully for the defending champs—with his eight points, seven rebounds and three steals in 38 big minutes of action. The veteran started the second half over Harrison Barnes (nine points, two steals, two 3PM), and it will certainly be interesting to see if Steve Kerr gives any thought to tinkering with the routine in a winner takes all showdown. 

 

A 3-1 series hole had many burying the Warriors alive, but the zombie squad that never dies has found a way to become live once again.  

 

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When the final horn sounded, you could read the disappointment on Kevin Durant’s face: he knew OKC had just let a winnable game get away. Despite a lead after every one of the first three quarters, the Thunder reverted to hero ball to try and beat a complete team. Although Kevin Durant (29 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two steals, three blocks) and Russell Westbrook 28 points, nine boards, 11 assists, four steals, five turnovers) each had very full lines, the superstar duo combined to make just 20-of-58 (34.5%) for 57 points. Combine that with the fact that Oklahoma City shot just 3-of-23 (13.0%) from downtown compared to Golden State’s 21-of-44 (47.7%) showing and it becomes a little bit easier to dissect what precipitated the unexpected deterioration. 

 

I’ve given OKC a lot of credit for having capable, confident role players in place around KD and Westbrook, and that was again the case on Saturday with Steven Adams (nine points, nine rebounds) and Andre Roberson (11 points, eight rebounds, one steal, three blocks, 5-of-5 FGs) each contributing to the cause. However, Dion Waiters, the true X-factor of this series, playing 36 minutes and having just three points and four rebounds is consistent with what has not worked in his team’s favor. In Oklahoma City’s three victories over the Warriors, Waiters is 13-of-24 (54.2%) and has averaged 11.0 points. In the Thunder’s three losses, Waiters is 4-of-20 (20%) and has averaged 3.3 points.

 

Around the NBA

 

  • R.I.P. Bryce Dejean-Jones: In what can only be described as truly tragic news, former New Orleans Pelicans guard Bryce Dejean-Jones suffered a gunshot wound to his abdomen late Friday night and passed away as a result. The entire Rotoworld family sends its best wishes to the loved ones Dejean-Jones leaves behind. The 23-year-old signed his first NBA contract with New Orleans during the 2015-16 season.

  • Dwane Casey Likely to Stay Put: Just like Portland did with the deserving Terry Stotts, the Raptors can be expected to reward Dwane Casey in the form of a contract extension, per ESPN’s Marc Stein. Casey may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but this club has grown both on and off the court under his guidance and should continue to do so into the future.

  • DeMarre Carroll Injury Update: The preface to this blurb should have an automatic rollout considering the laundry list of injuries Carroll has dealt with over the last couple of years, and to nobody’s surprise the versatile forward revealed that he was nowhere near healthy during Toronto’s playoff run. While some will pine for his candidacy as a potential fantasy sleeper given the discount he’ll come at next year, it’s hard to see his offensive role growing if (when?) DeMar DeRozan re-signs and Jonas Valanciunas continues to be featured more often.

  • Bismack Biyombo’s Payday: In advance of his pending payday, Bismack Biyombo will decline his $2.9 million player option for next season and enter free agency, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein. It would be of no surprise to see BB earn $10-$15 million annually on his next deal, and the Raptors are going to have to rebuild their frontcourt with Biz likely to move on and a gaping hole at power forward.

  • DeMar DeRozan Wants to Stay with Raptors: When asked about his upcoming free agency the day after Toronto’s season had concluded, DeMar DeRozan didn’t sound like someone who desired to explore the market. Although the Los Angeles Lakers—among other teams—will come calling, DeRozan sounds prepared to commit to the Raptors so long as the only franchise he’s ever known is committed to him. They’ll have to illustrate that by showing DeRozan the (max) money, and GM Masai Ujiri has to already know it.

  • Elbow Surgery on the Table for Kyle Lowry: Lowry was adamant that his right (shooting) elbow was a non-issue when he struggled during the playoffs, but he wouldn’t be getting it examined for a possible surgery if that were the case. Even if Lowry were to go under the knife, it doesn’t sound like a situation that will swing his projected fantasy value for next season.    


Follow Ethan Norof on Twitter @Ethan_Norof for more fantasy basketball analysis, advice and all things Los Angeles Lakers.
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