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Oklahoma City Thunder, Page 2

"I’m Kind of Freaking Out" – Keys to an OKC Victory in the NBA Finals

Along with The CDP doing aces on the Miami Heat keys to victory in the Finals, we’ve dispatched our main man Thunderstolt to look at the OKC side and determine what the keys to victory are. Keep in mind that this has been edited, as he’s barely slept, can’t eat and quite frankly, is barely a human being right now. This is him at his most serene, probably the result of some sort of placebo. As the title of the post says, earlier today his first message to me was “I’m kind of freaking out.” Peace be with you, brother. Let’s get to it!

He saw this coming.  From the moment he told Clay Bennett he would be his GM, Sam Presti saw this as his vision.  His vision has brought them to within four wins of raising a banner. 

Presti has done his job.  Now its time for Scott Brooks and his staff to finish theirs for this 2011-2012 season.  The good news is the Thunder doesn’t have to change much from the previous three series to be successful in the Finals.

It seems fitting the first championship foe ever for this Thunder squad is against the Heat – after the next two weeks either KD or LeBron will have a ring and a banner to raise this fall.  Soak that one in.

Other than that quick little hit, I going to stay away from the obvious KD vs LBJ narrative because I’m pretty sure 99% of the blogosphere is writing about that (My thoughts on that matchup: The two best players in the league going at it for their first title and we’re in for a hell of a series. That cover it? Okay, good). So let’s stick to basketball, shall we? Presenting the Thunder’s keys to victory.

Russell Westbrook vs The World

As I mentioned in my last post for MAMBINO,  Westbrook has evolved as a player not only throughout this lockout shortened regular season but over the last 15 playoff games as well.  He has kept his foot on the gas pedal when need be, but surprsingly has pulled back to get other guys involved as well.  His defense in the playoffs has been underrated, relentless and most importantly, he is finding ways to contribute to wins other than the stat sheet. 

This could be a big, BIG series for Russ.  Westbook has been a sponge in these playoffs not only from what his coaching staff is telling him but from opponents as well.  In my four years of watching the Thunder play, I don’t think I have ever seen Russ use a screener more than once in a set.  Against the Spurs, they ran him ragged through screen after screen as Tony Parker used the same big man to find a crease in the defense.  You know what happened?  Russ threw it back right at ’em and started using his big men to use a screen two or three times until he saw daylight to drive to ball and either find a slashing big man or shooter in the corner.

More than likely Chalmers will start on Westbrook to start the series but that could have disasterous ramifications if they stick with Mario too long.  Westbook will see Chalmers, Wade, LeBron, Battier and anyone else who Coach Spoelstra thinks can slow him down for stretches.  Russ must keep doing what he has been doing and playing with poise and composure.  He has been fantastic at picking his spots thus far and they need him to continue that for the Thunder to make the final step.  Plus, the idea of Westbrook having more shot attempts in the Finals and Thunder winning would make Skip Bayless’ head explode (so America wins, as well as OKC!). Depending on what the Heat defense gives him, that could be a reality. 

Like A Bosh 

Chris Bosh is the key cog on both ends of the floor for the Heat, Thus, Serge Ibaka must … Read more...

MAMBINO’s NBA Finals Preview: Keys to a Miami Victory

In many ways, the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder are mirror images of the same team. Guided by three athletic superstars and one of the youngest coaches in the league, both teams had to survive the old powers in their respective conferences to make it here. The Thunder played the Mavericks, the Spurs, and the Lakers, who collectively represent every single NBA finals representative from the West since 1999. The Heat took out Boston for the second straight year and prevented the C’s from getting to the Finals for the 3rd time in 5 years.  In terms of NBA narrative, however, these teams could not be more different.  The Heat will undoubtedly be the villains in this series and most casual fans will side with the Boy Scouts from OKC.

OKC is the homegrown model, the team created by smart lottery draft picks, cap flexibility, and opportune trades. With their culture and management structure, they are set up to be the Spurs of the next decade if they can find a way to lock up their young core. And with Harden still on his rookie deal, OKC has the added advantage of the kinds of role players that Miami wished it had. My heart says that OKC will win, but my brain is telling me that I’m merely hoping instead. Miami certainly has more experience, as both Wade and LeBron have 2 appearances in the Finals each under their belts. You might say that the Thunder are merely precocious and that the Heat are still the current generation of stars. Either way, this is the time for the Miami Heat to establish a dynasty if they’re ever going to.

Looking at the numbers, you can see that we’re looking at two teams that can both score and defend at a high level. Everyone expects this to be a competitive series. If Miami is going to take home the title, they’re going to need their A-Game. Here are my keys to the series for the Heatles:
Ready for some
Boy Scouts, Bron?
  • Stars Need to Shine: This is truly a generational battle of NBA superstars and the Heat have a lot less margin for error than against Boston. LeBron has been unreal in these playoffs, but Kevin Durant has been outstanding too. In the Finals, LeBron needs to be invincible. LeBron still has dimensions that KD is just starting to develop; however, it’s time for him to show that he’s the best player in the league, not just in the regular season. The Heat cannot afford the erratic performances Wade has been providing, particularly with Sefolosha playing so well right now. The 8th ranked Heat struggled mightily on offense at times against Boston and OKC has a lot of athletic defenders to throw at them. Their stars need to be nothing less than transcendent.
  • Tough, Team Defense: The Heat allowed Boston (the NBA’s 27thmost efficient offense this year) to score punches in droves. Now they face OKC’s 2nd ranked offense and you can’t afford it against a team that can score like that AND get easy points in transition off of your mistakes. Miami’s team thrives on defense and its time to rediscover that identity. In the Western Conference, teams tried to exploit OKC in the frontcourt and play their stars physically. The Heat don’t have the same advantage, but they have incredibly athletic defenders in Wade and LeBron that can disrupt the OKC stars. Spoelstra is a defensive maestro and it’s time for him to earn the title with his schemes, particularly at disrupting the OKC pick and rolls and making their stars into jump shooters. It can be done, but the Heat need a game plan when Harden, Westbrook, and Durant are all on the court.
  • Steal One on the Road: The NBA Finals has an interesting 2-3-2 format, so the Heat will g

Spurs/Thunder Mid-Series Check-Up

With two dramatic victories this weekend by the Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder, both the Eastern and Western Conference Finals series have essentially been reduced to 3 game series. The final four teams all held home-court serve, so it’s down to three games apiece every other day this week to decide who heads towards the championship round. For NBA fans in Miami, Boston, Oklahoma and San Antonio, the next 6 days are going to be sheer agony – none of these cities are going to be sated by a mere conference crown. They’re all title contenders whose goals start and end with an NBA championship. Win or lose, nothing’s been accomplished except for taking years off the lives of these four fan bases.

The one silver lining to BockerKnocker’s Knicks and my Lakers getting bounced weeks ago is that our hearts have been rapidly calcified in the wake of our collective playoff disappointment. No longer feel the palpitations associated with a ball clanging hard off the back iron or careless pass floating to the other team. I happily and calmly watched this weekend’s action with wavering attachment depending on whoever had the lead. The Lakers fan in me wanted the games to end up in a tie, just so that everyone would be miserable. However, the basketball fan in me felt the slightest tickle in my cold, black heart watching Rondo pick apart the Miami defense and Kevin Durant continue his ascendancy to another level of stardom.

However, we need to check-in with people that still have a pulse, feel feelings and of course, care about the game’s outcome past pathetic Lakers apologist biases. Two MAMBINO correspondents, have graciously agreed to help us out and take the temperature of these series with the score tied at 2-2.

First up, ThunderStolt on his Oklahoma City Thunder:

KOBEsh: In the first two games, San Antonio looked like an unstoppable offensive juggernaut, shooting a combined 50% from the field and averaging 110 points a game. They were on a freakin’ 20-game win streak. In so many ways, they looked completely unbelievable – getting open shots whenever they wanted, and completely effortlessly at that. The OKC defense was reduced to rubble, and the only thing that Scott Brooks could do to slow down the Spurs attack was to play the much maligned “Hack-a-Splitter’ (which, to Brooks’ credit worked). In your words, the Spurs just flat-out looked like the better team.

So what’s changed the last two games? In Game 3, it seemed like San Antonio came back to Earth a bit, only scoring 82 points, shooting 39% and not looking like the Harlem Globetrotters. However, in a Game 4 loss, they still racked up 103 points, shot 47% from three and 50% from the field. How are the Thunder winning these games? What would you say is the main component that’s changed? 

Thunderstolt: The key word here is effort. the Thunder are winning games with effort.  In games three and four the Thunder have put together games chalked full of effort to a man.  Scott Brooks said it best: to beat this Spurs team, you cannot have only one effort on a single defensive possession but two, three, and even four times in a 24-second shot clock – you must account for those five guys because when you don’t, you give up a layup or wide open three.  
Granted, in game four the Spurs topped 100 points and were efficient from the field. However, the Thunder were hounding them all night long and the quality of the shots the Spurs were taking were far below that of game one and two, when they were getting … Read more...

MAMBINO’s Western Conference Finals Preview

Can Kawahi contain KD?

Charles Barkley has boldly proclaimed that these two teams left are the best two teams in the NBA. It’s hard to disagree.

The San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder will begin the Western Conference Finals on Sunday, with a trip to the NBA Finals on the line. The two teams have gone 16-1 combined so far in the playoffs, with the Spurs on a 18 game winning streak and the Thunder only losing one postseason contest to a squeaker last Friday with the Lakers. No other teams are playing as well as these two squads right now, so the consesus should be, like Chuck says, that whoever wins this matchup is the presumptive NBA champion. Maybe.

We’re of two minds on this at MAMBINO HQ, but we’ve got not only our consensus decision here, but also spicy little alternative for you out there. Check it!

SPURS in 7 games

San Antonio 2.0
The CDP: OKC is the model for rebuilding at the moment, but we should take a long look at the Spurs as well. While it’s hard to call it classical rebuilding when you retain Ginobili, Parker, and Duncan, there’s no doubt the Spurs have reinvented themselves over the last few seasons. After a title in 2007, they made it to the Conference Finals in 2008, but were manhandled by the Lakers. The Spurs had a top 3 defense, but a middling 15th rankeddefense. They filled out the roster with Michael Finley, Bruce Bowen, Ime Udoka, Oberto, Matt Bonner, Brent Barry, Kurt Thomas, and Jacque Vaughn. 2/3 next seasons, the Spurs lost in the first round and it was clear they needed a fresh infusion of talent to remain competitive.
Fast forward to 2012 and Matt Bonner is the only role player holdover. The Spurs have added talent like DeJuan Blair, Kawhi Leonard, and Tiago Splitter through the draft while picking up Boris Diaw, Stephen Jackson, Patrick Mills, and Danny Green through shrewd pickups and trades. The Spurs arenow the 10th best defense, but the top-ranked offense. They haven’t lost yet in the playoffs or at home since April 11. Can you imagine the coverage that this would receive if it were the Heat? The media would even throw Tebow aside for that scoop.
The Spurs may not have had to beat the Mavericks/Lakers like OKC, but I’m not worried about a team with Popovich and Duncan being ready. In many ways, OKC is a mirror image of the Spurs, a top-heavy small market team built on three superstars and the right supporting cast. OKC has the 2nd ranked defense and #11 offense,both right behind the Spurs. They are an extremely talented young group that is growing quickly and capable of overwhelming teams with their athleticism. I just think that the Spurs still have their number this year and are playing too well. Here’s why I’ll take the Spurs in 7:
  1. All-Star Match-ups: With Danny Green, Stephen Jackson, and Kawahi Leonard in tow, the Spurs actually have the kind of long, athletic defenders that could potentially bother KD. Tony Parker is a much bigger defensive challenge than Russell Westbrook has faced thus far and has the foot speed to stay with him. Duncan looks better than he has in years. At his best, Ginobili is one of the league’s only playmakers explosive enough to counter James Harden. The Spurs are one of the only units in the league capable of keeping up with OKC’s Three Musketeers.
  2. Thunder D: The Thunder lack the kind of punishing big man that has been able to hurt the Spurs in the past (think Grizzlies), which creates defensive problems for OKC. As a result, the Spurs don’t have to play as much Tiago Splitter and can play Bonner, Diaw, and Blair – who all help the offense hum. With their

Lakers Game 5 Recap: The Best Team Won

It just didn’t feel right. In trying to distill down my swirling thoughts into a simple reductionist theory that would hopefully quell my aching fanhood, that sentiment kept on rolling around and around in my head. It just didn’t feel right.

I’ve seen champions before and lived in the cities while they happened. I’ve seen five Lakers title teams, and two in the 2004 and 2007 Boston Red Sox. I’ve watched intently as teams have broken decades-long curses, and other teams who arose seemingly out of nowhere to take a championship no one thought could be theirs, but in the end was rightfully earned. I know that feeling you get, a sensation similar to a great idea hitting you slowly but deeply. In every championship season I’ve witnessed, there’s a moment when you realize that the team you’re watching could take it all. Or maybe more accurately, should take it all.

You see it in their eyes and in their effort. It’s present in the teammates on the bench, whether they’re in the throes of competition or in the malaise of a practice. It’s that undeniable feeling you get that no matter how bad the loss was, or how emphatic the score, that your team can go all the way. The 2012 Los Angeles Lakers couldn’t give me that.

Where to start with Game 5? There’s so many angles to take: Andrew Bynum’s passive stat line of 10/4 with three quick fouls, zero offensive rebounds and a -6,000 on how engaged he seemed to be in the game. Ramon Sessions making just one bucket all whilst watching Russ Westbrook drop 25 points, each hoop more dynamic than the last. Pau Gasol, in what might have been his last game in purple and gold, aggressively going for a 14/16 night, but ultimately not giving enough for a W. Metta World Peace, despite the worst flagrant foul call I’ve seen since Tyson Chandler put a flaming sledge-hammer coated in uranium to LeBron’s back hit LeBron in the first round, played his ass off in a OKC gym that booed him every time he touched the ball. And then there was Kobe, who dropped 42 points on over 50% shooting, solemnly reminding us how much we’ll miss his greatness when he’s gone. It’s not even worth going over the statistics. The Lakers scratched and clawed for 3 quarters, while the Thunder looked like they were just getting warmed up, like Skynyrd playing a bunch of new middling songs before getting into Freebird. When OKC turned it on, it was too much for the Lakers to handle, and the game ended in a blowout. Of course Andrew’s lack of production and the incredible performances by Westbrook and Durant are primary culprits for the loss, but really, this contest was just a microcosm for the entire series.

The bottom line is, the Lakers got beat by the better team. Even in a 5-game series that felt like it went 9, the Thunder didn’t just outwork the Lakers; they were flat-out more talented, explosive and hungry. No matter how badly you thought the Lakers played at the end of the fourth quarters, or the mistakes they made to give Games 2 and 4 away, the Thunder had to win them. Down seven with two minutes left? Down 13 with seven minutes left? Both in games where the Lakers largely dictated the pace and rhythm? Maybe this more than anything demonstrates the greatness of the OKC attack – their 9 minutes of play were better than 87 from the Lakers. It only took them 540 seconds to outdo what LA had struggled over 5,200 to achieve. Chew on that thought for a minute and tell me that this was the Lakers series to lose. The Lakers couldn’t c… Read more...

State of Laker Nation Playoff Recap: Implosion in the Clutch

           With a loss like this, I’m not sure it’s the details that really need discussing as much as the emotional and psychological impact. The last two minutes are still burned in my brain. As KOBEsh wrote about Game 1, sometimes it’s a lot easier to swallow a big loss than one like this, which was also an amazing opportunity to steal a game on the road. As a result, I have a world class sports hangover this morning, the kind of pain you can’t believe you’re in over sports. I can’t believe how emotionally draining last night’s loss was as a fan and can only begin to imagine what it was like on the plane flight home. Did Kobe let anyone talk or did he mandate a team sulk on the way home?
As painful as this loss was, it wasn’t all bad. I have to give Coach Potato Head credit for making adjustments and having his team ready to play last night. And they were great, for a gritty first 46 minutes, where they had a 7 point lead. They won the rebounding battle and played stifling defense, forcing 14 turnovers. Russell Westbrook came back down to earth and James Harden had 5 TOs. Offensively, the Lakers took care of the ball and got to the line. The bigs even showed up and controlled the paint. Bynum had a huge hook shot to extend the lead to 7 with 2:09 to play. Then it all went off the rails and the Lakers imploded in a terrifying fashion. After holding the Thunder to less than 70 points through those 46 minutes, the Lakers coughed up their 7 point lead and let the Thunder voodoo shamans rip our collective heart out. A couple of quick Harden layups, a turnover, and a clutch Durant jumper. All of a sudden we were down and unable to respond. Game over.
Oh Mamba…
This game provided plenty of fuel for the Kobe Haters. He was 9-25 from the field, only got to the free throw line twice, and went 0-6 from 3 for the game. I’d bet the farm that my Kobe-nemesis Henry Abbott is already planning a huge post to talk about the limits of hero ball using this as Exhibit A, but the fact is that Kobe helped build that 7 point lead by taking, and making, some really really tough jump shots. We don’t have the lead to blow without him. However, there’s no doubt that Kobe was the central figure in the Lakers devastating collapse. Over and over, he had the ball in his hands with a chance to ice the game, an opportunity he relishes. He just didn’t have it last night.
Around Mambino, we constantly discuss how there’s value in having a player on your team who can create shots for themselves under intense duress and make them at an above average clip. There’s a reason that Kobe has 5 rings with the Lakers. But the problem with having these guys is that sometimes the same overconfidence that allows them to drill these shots and take over a game will lead them to shoot their team out of games. I think Abbott is dreaming when they say you don’t need to use hero ball ever, but you can certainly overuse it. Last night, we did. The Lakers offense choked up and Kobe tried to take over. Mamba missed his five final shots and had an inexcusable turnover on an inbounds play that led to an easy Durantula lay-in. I’d be lying if I denied screaming, “COME ON KOBE!” about 10 times in the last two minutes.
As our best player and the guy with the ball in his hands when the ship sank, this game is squarely on Kobe’s shoulders.  His late game execution was terrible, there’s no defending that. But there was a lot more going on and he didn’t exactly get the help he needed. Our defense imploded — it should have been able to hold the Thunder to less than 9 points in the last 2:09. It’s fair to ask if Ramon Session

State of Laker Nation Recap: A Pathetic Lakers Apologist Searching For Logic

If someone were to say, “Hey buddy, “you owe me one million dollars”, you’d look at him and laugh, brush it off and move on to more serious conversation. He insists “no, really, you owe me one million dollars. I need it by Tuesday”. What do you even do in that situation? You don’t have that type of capital and even if you did, would you be able to hand it over like that? It’s such a ridiculous situation regarding a unfathomable amount of money that I don’t even know that you’d panic. You’d just sit there for a while, not knowing how you even go about wrapping your mind around the matter at hand.

Now, what if you’re in that same situation, but you owe someone $900?  You have that money, and now you have to hand that over, maybe in 100 dollar bills. You’re freaking out. You’re so nervous that you can’t tell if you have to pee or vomit. That’s a palpable amount you can comprehend, and unfortunately, deal with. Oddly enough, $900 is a much scarier prospect than some abstract concept of owing a million dollars that you surely don’t have.

I’m holding on to this very shoddy analogy like a small Asian boy holds on to his teddy bear at night as a 27 year-old living in New York City as I think about last night Lakers/Thunder game, in which YOUR…Oklahoma City Thunder laid a 119-90 shellacking on LA. The Lakers got jumped last night, but in many ways, a 29-point, out of control loss might be slightly easier to digest than a close, 10-point loss with 48 minutes of hustle. To examine, let’s go over some numbers for Oklahoma:

  • OKC shot 53% for the game, 41% from three and 81% from the line.
  • After leading the league in the regular season in turnovers, OKC produced just 4 last night…and one was from Royal Ivey in garbage time
  • James Harden, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook scored 69 points on 22 for 42 shooting
  • Westbrook neared a triple-double with a 27/7/9 line
  • Despite taking (and making) mostly jumpers during the game, the Thunder still scored 44 points in the point
  • OKC scored 22 points off the Laker 15 turnovers and got to the free throw line nearly double the time 
  • The Thunder had 13 steals…to the Lakers 1

And now for LA:

  • LA shot a respectable 43%, but produced 15 turnovers
  • The Lakers had zero (yes, ZERO) fast break points
  • Even in losing by such a large margin, the Lakers still won the rebounding battle 43-41
  • Andrew Bynum was active, throwing down a 20/14
  • Taking out garbage time, the Lakers shot 5 for 12 from three-point range
  • The Lakers got hung up for 39 points in the third quarter. They gave up less than that in the second half of Game 7 against the Nuggets

It’s hard to analyze those statistics; after all, how do you analyze a video game? These numbers are quite honestly cartoonish. The Thunder dismantled the Lakers last night, yes, but how? As the title of this post suggest, I’ll try to find some logic in this loss. Because I am a pathetic Lakers apologist.

Looking at the box score, it’s obvious that OKC was the much more aggressive team, on both ends of the floor. Offensively, they attacked the basket (well, Harden, Durant and Westbrook did – they shot 24 of the Thunder’s 29 free throws) and kept the pressure on a creaky Lakers zone all game long. Defensively, they forced turnovers with pressure defense and quick hands. If you’re looking here for more analysis, I don’t really have it. The Thunder were just much faster and more aggressive and shot the hell out of the ball last night (Only 5 buckets in … Read more...

Western Conference 2nd Round Preview

The never-ending first round of the NBA playoffs has finally concluded, with both LA teams winning some unbelievably close Game 7’s, the Lakers at home and the Clips on the road in Memphis. The matchups are set and to So Cal’s chagrin, pretty lopsided in regards to pre-game prognostication. Bummer.

But that’s why we’re here Mambinites. The MAMBINO roundtable is here once more to give our official prediction, but also why a curveball could be thrown into the works. Read on, friends.

(1) San Antonio Spurs vs. (5) Los Angeles Clippers: SPURS IN 6

Mr. Fundamentals will teach Blake a lesson.
BockerKnocker: I was actually trying to find reasons to pick the Clippers because it takes a true NBA nerd to appreciate the beauty of watching San Antonio play. The farther the Spurs advance, the more a casual fan turns to a flavor of the month sport like hockey. But the smart money is on Popovich and Duncan to advance to their 7th conference finals together.
When is the smart money NOT on that duo to win? Well actually, while everyone remembers their surprising defeat at the hands of Memphis last year, San Antonio hasn’t reached the WCF in four years. And while the upstart Clipshow is entering nearly uncharted territory by getting to the 2nd round, this type of finish doesn’t cut it for an organization that currently features one of the best players to ever play the game.
The Spurs demonstrated a killer instinct by brooming Utah last week, and by Tuesday’s tip-off, the veterans will have had 8 days of solid rest. On the other hand, Darrell’s favorite team is coming off of a knockdown, drag-out slugfest (always wanted to use that cliche), punctuated with a solid win in The Grindhouse. And as if San Antone didn’t need any more of an advantage, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are playing hurt. With only 1 day off before Round 2, they can’t possibly be at 100%. Paul was able to rest a little bit on defense by guarding Tony Allen, but if SA plays the Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili backcourt, I expect Paul to be attacked constantly.
I never did find that reason to pick the Clippers, and that’s probably a good thing, because we can’t stand FLOP City.
Why the Clips might only win 1 game

Because this Clippers team was extremely lucky to beat a Grizzlies team doing it’s best Walking Dead impression. Two of Memphis’ key players, Tony Allen and Zach Randolph, were operating at 70% or lower, which is only bad if you consider the fact that Allen is the team’s best defender and Z-Bo is the team’s best scorer. Oh, wait.

More importantly, in a slowed-down, epic 7-gamer, the Clips showed their true colors all over the court. With the game on the line, Vinny’s squad largely relied on momentum threes from a super streaky Nick Young, Eric Bledsoe doing an unimaginably dominant Tony Parker impression and Chris Paul being the best player in this year’s playoffs so far. Yes, I said it.

However, a hobbled Blake Griffin didn’t play the fourth quarter yesterday. Newly re-signed $45 million dollar man DeAndre Jordan was outplayed by Reggie Evans. Caron Butler is playing with a broken hand, and while it’s not affecting his shot, it’s certainly affecting his defense and ball handling. Mo Williams forgot how to play basketball. As a team, their ball-handling skills were sloppy, with 15 turnovers a game (up from 13 in the regular season) and 25 fouls per contest (up from 21). Gregg Popovich is going to dissect them with surgeon-like accuracy, making the Clips e… Read more...

Take a Supermodel to Work Day, featuring Kate Upton and the Oklahoma City Thunder

This is a public service announcement to all sports superstars that think they need to leave their current small market town for a bigger city, DBA victims of The South Beach Theory

Mambinites, please check out the afore-linked video shot by Skullcandy,  Kate Upton and NBA stars Kevin Durant and James Harden. It’s a perfectly fine waste of two minutes of your work day.

Please note that the proceeding reasons were NOT why Skullcandy shot this video:

  • Oklahoma City is a major television market
  • KD and Harden have marketable personalities
  • The Thunder top the league in merchandise sales
  • Durant and Harden are good looking

None of those things are true. Especially the last bullet point. However, these are the reasons why a company sent out a film crew and a SUPER MODEL to Oklahoma to film this spot:

  •  The Thunder win, and they win a lot.
  • These two superstars genuinely care about winning above all else, and conduct themselves in a manner that best reflects that. 

That’s it. Amazing.

Maybe the focus for guys like Carmelo and Dwight moving forward shouldn’t be finding the biggest television market or the highest density urban center. Maybe it should be which team is run the best and consistently puts together a winning product on the floor. For all the talk of where Melo should go, or who Dwight wants to be traded to, it’s amazing to me that San Antonio, Boston and Utah aren’t met with the same type of trade speculation considering how often they win, and win big. Winning makes you marketable. Over everything else.

It even lets you bring a super model to work.… Read more...

MAMBINO’s Western Conference Round 1 Playoff Predictions

Unlike the electric first round of the NHL playoffs, the NBA’s first round probably won’t go into 16 overtime games, nor will there be the type of seismic upsets like the 8th seeded Kings beating the best team in the NHL, the Vancouver Canucks. However, amidst the much more predictable nature of the National Basketball Association are some pretty dynamic first round matchups. Other than being entertained by the extra ton of passion that the sometimes lethargic basketball professionals lack from their game, we’ll get 4 series from the Western Conference that could go 6 games or more. This compacted 66-game season created a slightly skewed final finish, with teams seeded lower than you’d think, and every series more about the matchup rather than the seeds designated to the teams. The setting for the ever-enticing upset is ripe. Welcome to the most wonderful time of the year.

Check our Western Conference 1st round predictions, MAMBINO-style:

1) San Antonio Spurs vs. 8) Utah Jazz – San Antonio in 6 games

BockerKnocker: There isn’t a team with more basketball IQ than the San Antonio Spurs. Coach of the Century candidate Gregg Popovich is sure to impose his will over any team, but Tim Duncan is one of the greatest big men in NBA history. He ran roughshod through the league on his superb talent, and has extended his career by understanding his body’s limitations and outsmarting his opponents season after season. The Jazz present a boatload of problems with their bruising frontline, but before people call Memphis on this shindig, Manu Ginobili will (knock on wood) be available to take advantage of Utah’s biggest weakness: their perimeter defense. San Antonio will NOT be embarrassed 2 years in a row. This series is for the NBA nerds: Popovich will attempt a blitzkrieg checkmate, the Utah frontline will try to counter by getting rough, but Utah’s coaching staff will be overmatched.

How Utah can morph into the 2011 Memphis Grizzlies and win this series: It’s a bit of a broken record at this point, but you know how the Grizz beat the Spurs in last year’s playoffs; sheer size. Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Darrell Arthur blitzed the Spurs inside for a convincing 8 seed vs. 1 seed matchup. However, what everyone forgets is how dynamic their guard play was. Tony Allen locked up Tony Parker and brought him down from 51% shooting during the regular season to 46% in those 6 games. Mike Conley almost outperformed Parker, averging 14/5/6. OJ Mayo shot 40% from the 3 point line!

To win, not only do Al Jefferson, Derrick Favors, Paul Millsap and Enes Kanter have to outmuslce San Antonio, but Gordon Hayward, Devin Harris and CJ Miles have to create havoc on the perimeter both defensively and offensively. Essentially, the Jazz have to play up to their capabilities, as they have the past few weeks. It’s possible.

2) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 7) Dallas Mavericks – Oklahoma City in 7 games

BockerKnocker: OKC is going to have a game or two in this series where you’ll doubt their status as a championship contender, and rightfully so. Their offense is incredibly basic, especially in the fourth quarter, when head coach Scotty Brooks’ version of thinking outside of the box means setting an off-ball screen for Durant or Westbrook, instead of an on-ball screen. Dallas is full of cagey veterans and Vince Carter (not a compliment). Dirk will need a herculean performance for the Mavs to win, and with a younger, stronger Serge Ibaka shadowing him all series, it is … Read more...