Thunder star forward Kevin Durant was ejected late in the 4th quarter of Oklahoma City’s blowout loss to the Brooklyn Nets late on Thursday after arguing an illegal screen call on team mate Kendrick Perkins. OKC were down 104-90 at home late in the game when a frustrated Perkins committed the charging screen on Nets’ Gerald Wallace. Durant, clearly unhappy with his team’s performance and the ensuing call, gave the official a verbal spray and bought himself a double technical. Durant was clearly unhappy with the way the Thunder had played throughout the game, especially in the case of guard Russell Westbrook who jacked up 19 shots and had 6 turnovers. Durant has a great reputation in the league, and this ejection is the first of his NBA career.
It came as somewhat of a shock to many on Sunday. Oklahoma City, last year’s runner up and this year’s high hope trading their reigning Sixth Man of The Year and ultimate play maker off the bench. There were predictions of a trade involving said Sixth Man, but few saw it unfolding as dramatically as it did. In the dwindling hours of Sunday afternoon, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! sports broke the news of a trade that could ultimately change the course of the Western Conference and indeed the NBA as a whole. Fans, teams, officials and players have been left to ponder a decision which may impact the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Championship hopes for at least this year. Here, we take a look at the trade which has seen ‘The Beard’ himself, James Harden accept an offer to join Jeremy Lin at the Houston Rockets, and leave a title hopeful Thunder in his wake.
2012-13 NBA Punters Preview – Team Totals, MVP’s and Rookies.
As we fast approach a new season we want to pass on some words of wisdom to you. We all love a bet, a cheeky punt from time to time and what better time then the start of the NBA season. We think we have found a few options for you this season.
Howdy folks! We’re back today with the latest team season preview taking a look at Western Conference favorites the Oklahoma City Thunder, Perennial dark horses the Philadelphia 76ers (or will they be?) and southern giant killers the San Antonio Spurs. Enjoy!
Oklahoma City Thunder
How Will They Do?
Oklahoma City are the NBA’s darlings, rising out of the ashes of the Seattle Sonics. Last year they fulfilled what most predicted – making it to the NBA Finals before being steamrolled by the Heat juggernaut. This season brings another series of high expectations and even more challenges. As the Lakers rebuilt and retooled for another assault on the title the Thunder took stock and made very few changes. Last season was an important moment for this franchise as it gave them the irrational confidence that they can now reach the highest heights. The biggest story line coming out of this camp this season will be can they re-sign James Harden? Currently the team is cash strapped. They hold the contracts of Durant, Westbrook, Perkins and Ibaka in their hands. Harden is the icing on this cake, coming off the bench with confidence, fearless determination and one of the best ball handlers in the league. Harden’s presence cements this team atop the Western Conference, without him there is an air of uncertainty. We really like how the Thunder have built upon their roster and given themselves depth at most positions. Collison & Jones backing up Ibaka & Durant as newest Thunder recruit Thabeet brings size off the bench. Harden, Maynor and Cook act as dynamite off the bench lifting the tempo of the team whenever they are on-court. Sure it’s not the deepest team in the league but it’s one of the most reliable, you know what you will get from your bench. Very similar to Moneyball it’s about working your way to a win any way you can. Coach Brooks knows this, has assembled a squad capable of challenging every team in the league. This team is one of the most explosive and dynamic in the league, a League Pass must every night. There is no doubting they have the talent, if they can just sprinkle in a dash of experience (gained from the 2011/12 Finals & Olympics) this team could destroy the Western Conference. Look for them to pick up 55-65 wins this year.
With the NBA just around the corner, the team at NBA Nation Australia decided to take a look at who we think are the current 25 Best players in the league. We thought it was going to be easy and that we would all agree, ha! If it was only that simple. After days of discussion and a few little arguments, we have finally managed to put together a list! Am sure some of you will think we have been too generous with some spots, too hard on some players, or just downright crazy!? Check it out and let us know!
This young coach Brooks has been in charge of the young, emerging Thunder since 2008 and has seen this roster grow and go from strength to strength. Known as an emotional leader who positively compliments his players as opposed to pointing out weaknesses, and because of this has earned full respect and trust from his roster. This roster genuinely playing for Brooks. The Thunder usually rely on their prolific scorers in Westbrook & Durant and in that area they are sound but since Brooks’ appointment in 2008 he has preached the impotence of defense. Defense will be the key element this series against a very good offensive Spurs, utilising excellent defenders in Sefolosha & the sixth man of the year James Harden will be so important. The Thunder will also need to match the Spurs’ in the physical department. Perkins will have quite a job at hand containing the tough Duncan in the paint, but if he can match him physically it could prove to be successful for Oklahoma and put the Spurs off their flow.
Despite finishing just above mid-table in the 2011-12 regular season attendance report, the Oklahoma faithful are known to make quite the noise. Things have been quite exciting for Oklahoma since the arrival of the Thunder from Seattle, and the fact the team has gone from strength to strength and that they have one of the best players in the NBA has always ensured a full capacity at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. If the Thunder can steal a win in one of the first two games on the road, the crowd at home could really be the sixth man of the year. Oklahoma’s fans have shown to be thankful for this relatively new franchise and a finals appearance would be a great reward for their valued support.
Key Player: Kevin Durant
The young Durant is always the Thunders key player, even while playing alongside the explosive, high scoring PG Westbrook. It’ll be Durant, the roster and Brooks will be looking to to dig deep and match these tough Spurs basket for basket. He will be looking to crash through the lane, get to the line when he can, and will also be looking to get open from the perimeter where he can also be very dangerous. While the Spurs are fantastic defensively, Popovich will have written up plays to shut out Durant as much as he can. It’s a similar case to most teams as with the Heat, they would be wise trying to dry up Lebron (Durant) as much as they can although he will be too tough to completely shut out, and focus on closing Wade (Westbrook) out of the game.
So here we are. The end of another fun-filled, drama fueled season in the NBA. We’d like to thank all of you for reading during the course of the year. We’ve had a blast and can’t wait to keep bringing you the best coverage of the NBA throughout the Playoffs, the offseason and Season 2013. But now, we would like to present to you the NBA Nation Australia 2012 NBA Awards!
The Nuggets are bobbing in and out of playoff contention. With their huge win today their chances firm . They sit at 7th in the West one game clear of 8th placed Houston and one game clear of facing the ferocious Thunder in Round 1. Denver has 6 games in 11 days before the playoffs begin, only 1 game against the East, so each game will be critical.
April 16 @ Houston The Nuggets spanked the Rockets in Denver today by 15 points after leading by as many as 20 points. Faried dropped a double-double and is emerging as another great draft pick from the post-Anthony era. The Rockets don’t have anyone who matches up against his big body as well as an OKC or San Antonio. It’ll be a tight hard fought game but the Nuggets should eek out a win.
April 18 vs Los Angeles Clippers The Clippers lead the season series 2-1 and this is a crucial game for both teams. The Clippers will want to come to Denver and pick up a win away from home heading into the playoffs just to keep pace with the Lakers. Denver needs to protect home court. Paul could run wild and slice this Denver defence to shreds, even though he is only 26 he commands the Clipper offense like a veteran. Denver cant afford to drop a game against a Western conference opponent here. Continue reading →