Dean: Fascinating Game 2 Win Has Thunder Back In Saddle


Tuesday, May 3rd 2016, 1:22 pm
By: Dean Blevins


We're driving back from San Antone -- as enjoyable as scraping eyeballs on bottom of a swimming pool, but made easier with the good company of News9 colleagues Steve McGehee and Brian Mueller. And of course spurred on by the stunning Game 2 win over San Antonio.



Too bad all the talk is centered on the controversial final possession, because OKC was outstanding from tip to horn. All I will say about that final possession is that Dion Waiters no doubt should have been whistled for pushing off Manu Ginobli.  But you can't call that and dismiss the fact that the Argentine southpaw cue ball was a good foot and a half to three feet too close to the in-bounder, regardless if the violation is rarely called. 


Russell Westbrook was athletically superior and once again a fearless freak of nature getting the Thunder off to the strong start that was absolutely necessary. His determination to finish at the rim was a 180 from his Game 1 unproductive attacking forays into the forest of bigs. And his late game clutch free throws -- after struggling at the stripe the past month -- had 'ice-water-in my veins' written all over it. 

Kevin Durant was ... Kevin Durant.  Committed to his shots, much stronger on drives to the cup and an assist machine. KD overcame a few ugly turnovers and contributed mightily by demonstrating the essence of leadership following the Game 1 disaster. The Big Two returned to Top 5 players on Mother Earth, and the results were fascinating.

Related: Game 2 Recap

Watching the rapidly-developing, stud-in-the-making, tougher-than-rent Steven Adams go 12/17, and throw-down pick-and-roll slams with absolute authority while being a shot-blocking pogo stick in the paint, was a thing of beauty. The kind of beauty, talent and upside to make one Kevin Durant ponder, 'Hey, maybe I can win that title I want so badly right here in God's Country.'



And kudos to the much-criticized and offensively-challenged Coloradan Andre Roberson for manning up on the sensational duel threat force of Kawhi Leonard. And to Waiters for playing physical, big-boy ball and hitting a killer corner three in crunch time. And to Serge for his critically-needed pick & pop success, effort and athleticism -- although his determined attempts to body up man-child LaMarcus Aldridge down low were unsuccessful and his numbskulled late game foul on an Aldridge missed triple could've cost OKC the game. 

So somehow the Thunder manage to be out scored by 31 points in their two games in the Alamo City, but head into Friday's Game 3 with momentum, confidence and a 1-1 series split. Effectively, after trailing the juggernaut Spurs by 43 on Saturday, and looking so inept and out of their league that locals screamed Sam Presti hired the wrong guy, that KD was all but done in OKC, and that the future of the franchise looked about as bright as that of one John Manziel, believe it or not, these rascals in Thunder Blue have snatched home court advantage from the Spurs, who drop to a tidy 43-2 at home. 

Now, if OKC can somehow win the mid-series tandem of home games back in the cozy confines -- as they did after falling behind 0-2 in both the 2012 and 2014 series with losses in San Antone -- they'd have secured a commanding 3-1 lead and have KD ready to re-up, Billy Donovan ready to be anointed the 'next Pop' and confetti being bought by the truckload by Mayor Mick in anticipation of a June celebration.



In retrospect, let's tap the breaks OKC fans. Truth is the Thunder are still the underdogs and will need more Herculean efforts to pull off what would be a truly remarkable reversal. So, tap, tap, tap ... which sure beats the 'Taps' most anticipated after being buried in Game 1.
 



Too bad all the talk is centered on the controversial final possession, because OKC was outstanding from tip to horn. All I will say about that final possession is that Dion Waiters no doubt should have been whistled for pushing off Manu Ginobli.  But you can't call that and dismiss the fact that the Argentine southpaw cue ball was a good foot and a half to three feet too close to the in-bounder, regardless if the violation is rarely called. 

Technically, Manu on the line triggered a series of missed calls But refs aren't going call that in SA.-remember OU @ KU?. OKC deserved W.

— Dean Blevins (@DeanBlevins) May 3, 2016


Russell Westbrook was athletically superior and once again a fearless freak of nature getting the Thunder off to the strong start that was absolutely necessary. His determination to finish at the rim was a 180 from his Game 1 unproductive attacking forays into the forest of bigs. And his late game clutch free throws -- after struggling at the stripe the past month -- had 'ice-water-in my veins' written all over it. 

Kevin Durant was ... Kevin Durant.  Committed to his shots, much stronger on drives to the cup and an assist machine. KD overcame a few ugly turnovers and contributed mightily by demonstrating the essence of leadership following the Game 1 disaster. The Big Two returned to Top 5 players on Mother Earth, and the results were fascinating.

Related: Game 2 Recap

Watching the rapidly-developing, stud-in-the-making, tougher-than-rent Steven Adams go 12/17, and throw-down pick-and-roll slams with absolute authority while being a shot-blocking pogo stick in the paint, was a thing of beauty. The kind of beauty, talent and upside to make one Kevin Durant ponder, 'Hey, maybe I can win that title I want so badly right here in God's Country.'

After all said & done w the series of whistle-swallowing non-calls, it's fitting that the play involved a lady grabbing Steven Adams' arm!

— Dean Blevins (@DeanBlevins) May 3, 2016



And kudos to the much-criticized and offensively-challenged Coloradan Andre Roberson for manning up on the sensational duel threat force of Kawhi Leonard. And to Waiters for playing physical, big-boy ball and hitting a killer corner three in crunch time. And to Serge for his critically-needed pick & pop success, effort and athleticism -- although his determined attempts to body up man-child LaMarcus Aldridge down low were unsuccessful and his numbskulled late game foul on an Aldridge missed triple could've cost OKC the game. 

So somehow the Thunder manage to be out scored by 31 points in their two games in the Alamo City, but head into Friday's Game 3 with momentum, confidence and a 1-1 series split. Effectively, after trailing the juggernaut Spurs by 43 on Saturday, and looking so inept and out of their league that locals screamed Sam Presti hired the wrong guy, that KD was all but done in OKC, and that the future of the franchise looked about as bright as that of one John Manziel, believe it or not, these rascals in Thunder Blue have snatched home court advantage from the Spurs, who drop to a tidy 43-2 at home. 

Now, if OKC can somehow win the mid-series tandem of home games back in the cozy confines -- as they did after falling behind 0-2 in both the 2012 and 2014 series with losses in San Antone -- they'd have secured a commanding 3-1 lead and have KD ready to re-up, Billy Donovan ready to be anointed the 'next Pop' and confetti being bought by the truckload by Mayor Mick in anticipation of a June celebration.

Our Basketball Power Index gives Spurs 65% chance to win series with Thunder (entered game with 84% chance).

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 3, 2016



In retrospect, let's tap the breaks OKC fans. Truth is the Thunder are still the underdogs and will need more Herculean efforts to pull off what would be a truly remarkable reversal. So, tap, tap, tap ... which sure beats the 'Taps' most anticipated after being buried in Game 1.
 

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Our Dean Blevins is on the way back from San Antonio as he blogs about the crazy ending to the Thunder's Game 2 win over the Spurs to even the series. 

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