Game 3 of the NBA Finals is in the books, and the Thunder looked like a “young team” perhaps for the first time in the postseason. There was plenty to be discussed on why they fell short, from Kevin Durant’s foul trouble, Harden’s poor play and Westbrook’s limited minutes.
- David Aldridge on Kevin Durant and Westbrook’s growth since last season: “We don’t know what the Thunder will ultimately do with this group. But whatever they’re going to become, it’s happening now, before our eyes. For a year, the biggest issue was whether Durant and Westbrook could co-exist, if their occasional on-court dustups were just that or signs of something more sinister. That seems like a long time ago.”
- Durant was once again in foul trouble, and Kendrick Perkins didn’t make any excuses for him: “He’s got to play smarter,” Thunder center Kendrick Perkins said. “Those were fouls. Maybe the charge was kind of questionable, but at the end of the day, they’re fouls. We need him on the court at all times, so he may have to give up a layup. He just has to play smarter, and I think Kevin will.”
- Kevin Durant had some fun early in Game 3, talking some trash to Dwyane Wade after scoring over him: “Then the cameras caught Durant talking some smack as they went down court. “He told me I was too small,” Wade said after the game in an interview broadcast on NBA TV. “I had to run down the court and say ‘what’d you say again’ and he said ‘you’re too small.’ “He’s got seven inches on me, so, I played good defense but he’s a scorer and he made a good shot.”
- Who played well enough in Game 3 to be on the cover of The Miami Herald today? The answer is here.
- Many thought James Harden’s last foul against LeBron James was foolish, but not Gregg Doyel: “A judgment call by an official late in Game 2 of the NBA Finals went in favor of LeBron James, and that judgment call allowed the Heat to escape with a victory against the Thunder. Three days later, on Sunday night, a judgment call by an official again went in favor of LeBron James — and that call allowed the Heat to hit the clinching free throw and escape Game 3 with a 91-85 victory.”
- Harden, by the way, didn’t have much of a reaction to Metta World Peace tweeting about him except perhaps just a roll of his eyes.
- Royce Young explains why the Thunder needed more of Russell Westbrook in Game 3: “Sitting Durant isn’t the question. That makes sense. But sitting Westbrook? Wrong move. Now’s not the time for teaching lessons. We’ve all heard that this Russell Westbrook, this often out-of-control maverick, is what helped get the Thunder to this point. Well, let him be himself.”
- Kelly Dwyer added his thoughts on why sitting Westbrook was a part of Thunder’s demise: “If we saw LeBron James do the on-court version of what Scott pulled off for six minutes of game time, even late in the third, the press and fans would rightfully destroy him. Because this was pulling up for a 3-pointer after a 3-on-1 fast break. This was dribbling the ball off your foot. This was letting Eddy Curry get an offensive rebound after a missed free throw. This was a major, major screw-up that didn’t exactly cost Oklahoma City the game, though it certainly aided in its demise.”
- If you missed Westbrook’s impression of Rajon Rondo early in the third quarter of Game 3, click here.
- The Heat are now 2-1 in the Finals, but they’ve been in this position before, writes Ira Winderman: “The Heat still need two victories to vanquish the Thunder. And they’re more than aware of what they’re up against. Because they also need two victories in these NBA Finals to vanquish the nightmares of last season’s NBA Finals. When they also led 2-1.”
- While Magic Johnson and the crew broke down what happened in Game 3, some guy expressed his thoughts on Jon Barry.
- *Update: According to Adrian Wojnarowski, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer is reporting that the Bobcats will hire Mike Dunlap as the new head coach. Click here, here and here for some thoughts on Dunlap to learn more.
- The Bulls may have to consider the idea of trading Luol Deng, and here is why: “And yes, it does seem odd that Deng would go from leading the NBA in minutes per game to trade bait. That can be explained, however. The Bulls are disappointed Deng is planning to wait until after the London Olympics to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist. Really, though, missing the first month or two of next season is irrelevant in the long run. The Bulls have plenty of love for Deng. The issue here is being backed up against the luxury tax and trying to create flexibility for the future.”
- Iman Shumpert put a timetable on his return for next season: “The Knicks guard, who made an appearance yesterday at a Sprint NBA Nation event at South Street Seaport, is back walking under his own power after surgery early last month to repair a torn ACL in his left knee. But he is still expecting to miss the first two months of the season. “The target date [for my return] is January,” Shumpert told The Post.”
- The rumor of the day may be the possibility of a Pau Gasol return to Memphis, and Matt Moore explains why it’s not likely to happen: “In short, this thing is bonkers. But the source is credible, and there’s some truth to the elements around it. The Lakers are looking to target a new place for Gasol, and Rudy Gay may be the kind of player they’re looking to get in return. Just don’t count on seeing Gasol back in the baby bear blues anytime soon after he burned quite a few bridges with his exit with the fans.”
- Patty Mills will become a free agent this summer.
For Guillermo’s interviews during NBA Media Day, click here.
For Metta World Peace calling out James Harden, click here.
For all blog items, click here.