May 24, 2011

Scotty Brooks/Liam Neeson Motivational Speeches

I think its safe to say the Thunder are royally screwed. Not only did they blow home court advantage with two straight losses in OKC, they also blew a 15 point lead with 5 minutes to go. The end result? A 3-1 hole, the brink of elimination, and a not so fun trip back to Dallas for Game 5.

Not may teams have come back from down 3-1...only eight. And only two of them did it without home court advantage, like OKC will have to do.

If this series was a sports movie, the Thunder would somehow come back and win (because that's how pretty much every sports movie turns out). And see as its the low point for OKC, this is the point in the film where you'd get a melodramatic "win one for the gipper/the inches we need/Herb Brooks"-esque speech.

Now I'm not saying that Scott Brooks will come up with a great speech. But if someone kidnapped him and replaced him with his twin, actor Liam Neeson?* Now we're talking. Here's what he'd say to each of the contributing Thunder before Game 5...

"I order you to forgive yourself."

Jean Valjean, Les Miserables

For Kevin Durant, who after the game said "I feel upset because I let them down...I let the city down." Don't get me wrong, Durant deserves some of the blame. He had a couple of dumb offensive fouls when he was visibly frustrated by Shawn Marion's tight D. His nine turnovers certainly didn't help. And putting up zero a goose egg in the final 10 minutes were inexcusable for the league's best scorer, and arguably best player. But this loss was not solely his fault. He had two, and sometimes even three defenders in his face all night, especially after Harden fouled out, because he was the only offensive threat on the court. Who can blame him for his struggles?

For OKC to win any of the remaining games, Durant HAS to put this one behind him. Everyone contributed to this meltdown. The Thunder shot 15% from downtown, turned it over 26 times and had 29 fouls (allowing Dirk to go 14-15 from the stripe). That's a pretty solid recipe for blowing a late 15 point lead.

"You almost got us killed! Are you brainless?"

Qui-Gon Jinn, Star Wars: Episode 1, The Phantom Menace

For James Harden. Harden's stupid sixth foul far away from the basket with about 4:30 to play in the 4th marked the turning point in Game 4. Without Harden, the Thunder offense had less firepower than the Iraqi Navy, scoring just six points from that point through the end of overtime. Don't believe me? Ask Brendan Haywood. "When Harden fouled out," Dallas center Brendan Haywood said, "we focused all our attention on KD. That was basically it." And that was it. KD couldn't score. Neither could the Thunder.

"What [you] do have are a very particular set of skills...Skills that make [you] a nightmare for people like [Jason Kidd/JJ Barea]. If you [play like you aren't insane], that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will [bench] you."

Brian Mills, Taken

For Russell Westbrook, who has been the most frustrating player to watch during these NBA playoffs. His athleticism is unmatched in this series. He easily has the ability to blow by or overpower Jason Kidd and JJ Barea. But his tendency to make stupid plays has been mind boggling. Here is a list of what Westbrook should not do:

A. Be selfish and shoot as many times (22) as Kevin Durant
B. Go 0-2 in a trip to the line in crunch time
C. Try to save a ball from going out of bounds that hit a Mav (Jason Terry)
D. NOT pass the ball to Durant when he's standing under the basket
E. And while we're at that...NOT distribute and create shots for his teammates

Westbrook can do whatever he wants offensively against guys like Kidd or Barea. But the stats don't indicate it in this series (21.8 ppg, 35%, 4.8 APG and 5.3 TPG). That's because Kidd is allowing him to shoot from deep, or drive into the lane against Dallas bigs Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood. Tough to get a layup over those hogmales. If Russell wasn't so determined to attack the basket every time he drives, instead using penetration to create open looks for guys like Durant and Harden (ala Rondo in Boston), this series might be headed in a different direction. But it seems unlikely that the 22-year old PG will learn or try that by the end of this series.

"Set an example, brother."

, Clash of the Titans

For Nick Collison, who's played very well the past two games off the bench. If not for a ticky-tacky foul called on Nick after a tough defensive play on Dirk towards the end, we might be talking about a 2-2 series. Collison will need to keep playing well off the bench for the Thunder to get back in this, especially since Kendrick Perkins has (once again) been exposed as an offensive liability in late game situations.

"In every business I tried, I can see now, it wasn't me that failed. Something was missing. Even if I'd known what it was, there's nothing I could have done about it because you can't create this thing. And it makes all the difference in the world between success and failure. "

Oskar Schindler
, Schindler's List

For Kendrick Perkins. Great defensive player. Intimidating post presence. Veteran leader. But a complete non-factor on the offensive end. And in this series, a complete mismatch with Tyson Chandler, who is quicker, longer, and not a scoring threat (making Perk's best asset irrelevant). The Celtics may have made a mistake in trading him towards the end of the season, but you can see why they were willing to ship him off and not try to resign him this off-season. Especially when he's sitting on the bench late in this series.

"Be without fear in the face of your enemies. Be brave and upright that [OKC] may love thee. [Swat] the [ball] always, even if it leads to your [fouling out]. Safeguard the [basket] and do no wrong. That is your oath...And that's so you remember it."

Godfrey of Ilebin, Kingdom of Heaven

For Serge Ibaka, who seemed to get back on track with an 18 point, 10 board, and 5 block performance. Serge is a great defender. That's a given. But Ibaka will need to keep up the pace on offense for the Thunder, especially if they can continue to go with an offensively challenged starting lineup that includes Thabo Sefolosha and the aforementioned Perkins. Only scoring 6 or 9 points (like game 2 and 3 respectively) can't happen again.

"Overkill is underrated."

Col. John Hannibal Smith
, The A-Team

For Scott Brooks. Just another reminder that no lead, even a 15-point gap with less than 5 to play, is insurmountable. Back to the drawing board coach...and time for a plan to come together.


"Now's not the time for dick measuring, Stuart!"

Brian Mills Taken

For Stuart Scott. Stop covering the NBA playoffs and embarrassing yourself bro.

*not actually his twin

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