Monday, May 30, 2016

It's Time to Make a Thunderous Statement.

Tonight's about way more than a Game 7.
As Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and all of the Oklahoma City Thunder players make that walk into Oracle Arena, they know that they are about to play one of, if not THE biggest game of their career.
Since moving to Oklahoma City in 2008, the core of this team has stayed complete and always been known as a force in the Western Conference.
But tonight, as they take the court in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals, only one thing is certain for Oklahoma City players - our time is NOW.
Four days ago, when Oklahoma City took a 3-1 lead back to Oakland, we as fans felt an aura of confidence, but somewhere deep within, we all knew this wasn't over - not by a long-shot.
So after two hard-fought battles, there are 48 minutes separating one of these teams from the NBA Finals.
It's 3 wins to 3 wins. Can't get any closer than that.
While we're all watching the grinding out of Game 7, we can't forget what all is at stake here.
There is way more on the line than just a win or a loss, even with the NBA Finals waiting for the winner.
We might have already seen the last game in Oklahoma City where Kevin Durant is in a Thunder uniform. There's no more sugar coating it - this could be the end of an era.
On the other hand, the Golden State Warriors are the best team in the basketball. Perhaps in history.
Defending Champions. 73-9 record on the year. Does that come to a crashing halt before they get to the Finals?
It's nearing in on the moment of truth - but when that ball gets tossed up in the air at 8:00 CT, Thunder Nation needs to get up, get loud, and get behind this team.
It's almost time to THUNDER UP.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

It's time to applaud the job that Billy Donovan has done as the OKC Thunder Head Coach.

Wow. What a game.
After following this team avidly since 2008, I can tell you that there have been ups and downs each and every year. We began the transition with the year to forget, the first year of Durant and Westbrook, when the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise relocated from the Seattle area, and the Supersonics legacy was molded into what this Thunder franchise has become today.

We've had our lumps over the years. Starting with P.J. Carlisemo, transitioning to Scott Brooks, who gets so much credit for laying the foundation for these players mindsets of never looking back, but I just have to give a big shoutout to Billy Donovan.
Coaches are the first to get criticized when things aren't going right, and they are the last to get credit when the success is to the expectation of the fan base.

As a Razorback fan, I've had the pleasure of seeing Billy Donovan coach at the University of Florida since I began watching basketball. He's the ideal coach and an absolute class act.
Words couldn't describe how happy I was to see him take the helm of my favorite NBA Team last April and after just one season, he's already left his mark on the hearts of our team, our fans, and most of all, our franchise.
Every game, I get more impressed with the coaching moves that Coach Donovan makes. Totally turning around a game plan or scheme because it starts going wrong, something that Scott Brooks wasn't ever comfortable doing.
Tonight, in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, I saw something new that gave my already amazing respect for Coach Donovan another boost. Instead of taking the role of some coaches and players in the league, as is expected by a First-Year NBA coach, Coach Donovan gave a response that really stuck with me.

It's no secret that during the games' second quarter, Golden State Warriors' Forward Draymon Green went up for a shot and left a pretty direct kick to the groin of Steven Adams, the Thunder big man.
In Game 2, this happened, but it was obviously an inadvertent - basketball play - which is rough, but I'm 100% okay with a basketball play because it's a risk of the game.
In Game 3 tonight, it didn't look so inadvertent.
I'm not saying it was intentional, I don't see Green has a dirty player, but it didn't look good.
Instead of using his post-game press conference to call out Green though, Donovan once again took the high road.

When asked about the "kick" Coach Donovan chose to respond with the following:
"Honestly, I was coaching my team when it happened and when it was shown on the screen, I was in the huddle lecturing the guys. I saw replays at halftime, but I know that the League Office reviews all of those types of plays, so I know that they'll take a look. I have no idea nor will I speculate what the intent of the play was, but I do know that this is the second time in two games that Steven has gotten kicked below the belt by the same player and as a coach, that's pretty concerning. But like I said, I have the utmost confidence that whatever the league decides, it'll be the right call, and we are focused onGame 4 just like we did Game 3, and keeping the home court advantage we grabbed in Game 1."

So in a world of criticism toward coaches and firings after winning seasons, I think it's time we acknowledge the type of system that Billy Donovan has already established in Oklahoma City and commend him on taking a team of superstars and pulling us at the very least, two wins away from the NBA Finals.