Former NBA coach Hubie Brown will be the analyst on ABC's telecast of the Boston Celtics-Oklahoma City Thunder game at noon Sunday at Cheasapeake Arena, working with Mike Tirico and reporter Heather Cox. Brown, 79, who coached the Kentucky Colonels of the ABA and Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks and Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA, discussed the Thunder and other teams in a telephone call this week:
How do you assess the Thunder's season?
I honestly feel that they have not played their best ball and yet they are only two games behind San Antonio on the loss the side. When I'm looking at teams, I'm looking at differential — by that we mean the amount of points you score and what you give up. They're like 9 1/2 points. That tells you they score the ball, they play good defense and, then, since I've been around the NBA since the 70s, when you have a differential of 6 or better, you have a great shot at winning the whole thing.
To me, the fact they can score the ball, which they're No. 1, the fact that they have three prime-time three-point shooters that shoot over 40 percent is a major key in (Kevin) Durant, (Kevin) Martin, (Thabo) Sefolosha and in the last month or so, Westbrook's percentage has made a major jump here. That's big because it gets you the extra point, and usually with the shot clock down. And the other factor is they get to the foul line. See a lot of teams take a lot of threes but they don't get to the line, so the other team's front line they stay in the game. Oklahoma City by averaging over 27 a game, they are either 1 or 2 in getting to the line and they are No. 1 in the league at 83 a game, now you're talking about two key areas — extra points, you're getting it in 3s and you're also getting it on the line. These two things are critical when you play the plus .500s and once you march into the playoffs.
Do you enjoy watching the Thunder play
I just like the team's growth. You have to keep reminding people that all the key guys are 23 or 24 years old. It's absolutely terrific. And you look at their roster, they are stockpiling good kids here with talent like the (Perry) Jones kid, (Reggie) Jackson, (Jeremy) Lamb and (DeAndre) Liggins. They have an exciting team, they have a great building to play in where the fans are if not the best, among of the best, in the league. Then they have an excellent coaching staff and than their front-office people are doing such a sound job in backloading people. For us who are outside of Oklahoma City, it's great to watch. Maybe the country will get over this small market business. In the West, when you talk San Antonio, Memphis and Oklahoma City, here you got three of the top four teams in the West are small market.
Do you think the Thunder will overtake the Spurs for the No. 1 seed in the West with Tony Parker out for a month?
The Thunder is favored to come out of the West. I like the fact that they got Martin and I really like the fact that they picked up (Hasheem) Thabeet, and also Ronnie Brewer and (Derek) Fisher. Now Brewer and Fisher, that gives them the depth in case of key injuries with key guys who have played in a lot of playoff games. Then the Thabeet factor, the staff is getting a great contribution from him. Because of his incredible size and wingspan, he causes and disrupts a lot of plays and a lot of passing in the lane area. ... The Thunder is playing them (San Antonio) twice. They win those two games, they're even. Now it comes down to scheduling and from now to the end, San Antonio has a favorable schedule. ... Parker definitely would be in the top three when you're picking an MVP for the league, so they are missing a major piece because he's playing the best basketball that he's played in his career.
How do you rate the Celtics playing without injured point guard Rajon Rondo?
Well, a lot of people say the Celtics are a 7 (seed). Well the Celtics are only one game in the loss column out of fourth. As long as they have an ability to have a day off before key games, they can be a handful. They can't take any games off because they are in a major fight. They could possibly get fourth — we don't know if (Derrick) Rose is coming back, Brooklyn has been sliding and Atlanta is up and down — they really have a good shot there.