2. The $12 million man
Of course, poor rebounding and post defending isn’t all Perk’s fault. Serge Ibaka is floating around out there somewhere, or so I’ve been told.
It’s one thing to shrink away from the prospect of playing the role of Kevin Durant’s wingman. Not everyone is built for the spotlight, I suppose. But Ibaka isn’t even fulfilling his responsibility as OKC’s third best player. Not even close. Offensively, Kevin Martin and Derek Fisher have been forced to supplement Durant’s scoring while Ibaka fires blanks from what seems like a mile from the basket. His insistence on playing along the perimeter doesn’t help much on the glass, either, obviously.
Meanwhile, in this series as well as the last, Ibaka is a non-factor on defense save for a few blocks. Randolph is destroying him in the post, humiliating a physically superior player. Why? Because Ibaka wants no part of the physicality that playoff basketball demands. He just wants to shoot jumpers and block the shots of players who cannot see him coming.
And, speaking of redundancy: Perkins and Ibaka could (See: should) be Jeff Green and James Harden.
3. Tantalizingly close
Even without any contribution from the front court, and even without Russell Westbrook, the Thunder are shockingly close to being good enough to advance to the Western Conference Finals. The Spurs looked extremely beatable on Monday night before the Warriors did what the Warriors do. The Bulls exposed Miami a little bit. Russell Westbrook would be six weeks removed from a a torn meniscus when the Finals rolled around — which would seem to suggest that he could return.
See what I did there?
All of that makes this the weirdest month of playoff basketball that I can remember. I have no idea what to think or how to feel. The only thing I do know with any certainty is that Kevin Durant is cold blooded. Just carrying 11 guys and a half-wit coach on his shoulders as if they were stuffed in his backpack.
It was over when... Thabo Sefalosha got beat (again) by Mike Conley who drilled his 11th bucket of the game to put Memphis up four with just under a minute to play.
Quote of the Night: “So, uh, why would you have Perkins on the floor to receive an inbounds pass when you’re down by five with 20 seconds left?”
Because Scott Brooks. Good job, good effort, OKC.