Thunder Lightning Round
By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
Adams Has Felt Worse
Twice now in this series, twice in the last two games actually, Steven Adams has been felled by a blow below the body’s Mason-Dixon Line.
A place where no man wants to feel the impact of another’s knee or foot.
In Game 2 it was Draymond Green’s knee that caught Adams and in Game 3 it was a swift kick to the crotch from Green again that brought the 7-foot New Zealander to his hands and knees.
But being from New Zealand, where he and his “mates” played rugby ( a sort of MMA on turf) he’s seen and felt worse than what Green dished out.
“Oh yeah, all the time. There were some really brutal ones,” he recalled when talking to reporters after OKC’s Monday practice. “Because they have cleats, I’ll leave the rest to the imagination.”
Still though, getting clocked in the kiwis is never good whether someone kicks you with cleats or slippers and Adams admitted he still felt “sore” down under and might even talk with Thunder trainer Joe Sharpe about fitted with some extra padded protection for what’s become a target area.
“I haven’t yet but I’m going to consider it due to the consistency of the hits.”
Green will likely be on his best behavior tonight since the NBA upgraded his flagrant 1 to a flagrant 2, meaning if he delivers another shot to Adams or anyone else he’ll automatically be suspended. Adams said yesterday before the league handed down its decision that it really didn’t much matter if Green was allowed to play in Game 4 or not.
“They have plenty of other players who are just as capable,” he said. “They’re a great team. Regardless I think we can beat them with or without him.
Russ Has No Friends
This deep in the playoffs things tend to get a little chippy between teams. The stakes are extremely high and by now at least one player on the other team has managed to severely irritate someone else. Russell Westbrook has a take no prisoners attitude whether he’s in a playoff game or a pickup game but admitted, right now he has no friends on the other end of the court.
“Yeah, I don’t have any friends this time of year on the court. My only friend is the basketball, that’s it. Everybody else? Ain’t no friends.”
No matter what you’re doing it’s always great to have options. It’s good when it comes to life in general and it’s certainly good in sports.
Here in Oklahoma the king of the option game has always been Barry Switzer. His triple option wishbone offense at OU racked up yards, wins and national championships. Switzer always used to say “just cuz you know what’s coming, doesn’t mean you can stop it.”
Billy Donovan may be the new option king in this neck of the woods and one of the reasons is opponents (Golden State in particular) have no idea what’s coming.
The Thunder won Game 1 by going big and they won Game 3 by going small, beating the Warriors at their own game.
“I think you’re always going to make adjustments and do things during the course of any game,” Donovan said Monday. “Certainly coming out of Game 2 (a Thunder loss) you’re going to look at some different things you can potentially do.”
And one of those was going small. Something no one figured the Thunder could do successfully against Golden State, the kings of small ball. How would they out-Warrior the Warriors? Especially since the couple times Donovan had experimented with a small lineup against GSW things didn’t exactly go so good.
But Donovan and his coaches don’t just look at the numbers and the percentages and the pluses and minuses. They look for what caused them to end up the way they did, good or bad.
“As you watch the film and break it down, I think the thing I always try to look at is, okay, are these things plus-minus-wise, if it is a negative, are they things that are correctable for us? Can we do this if we correct some things on our end? Or is it one of those situations where you say there are just too many difficult matchups here. We have a hard time defensively and offensively, and it may not be good,” he said.
And he and his coaches sure enough found some ways to turn negatives into positives.
“Even though we didn't do it very, very much (go small) in Game 1, and 2, I thought it was something we could maybe utilize a little bit. Like I said, as we went to it, it worked out well for us.”
Did it ever. The Thunder’s most-used small ball lineup (Russell Westbrook, Dion Waiters, Andre Roberson, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka) outscored the Warriors 45-15 in just 12 minutes on the court.
But Billy D was quick to point out that doesn’t mean he’s found the magic bullet.
“That's not to say next game it is a great thing. It could go the other way too. I think a lot of times you have to look at who is playing well, and how they're playing collectively as a group.”
So what does that mean for tonight? Who knows...but the options are there for just about anything.