In conference calls Thursday, several TV analysts discussed the Thunder heading into its first-round playoff matchup with Memphis. Here are some excerpts from their comments on the team:
Reggie Miller, TNT: “In my opinion, the ball movement was so crisp and everyone was involved when Russell Westbrook was out. Now they need Westbrook to win a championship. But in my opinion, the ball movement was much better when he was out. Can they find a way with Westbrook on the floor to get that continuity back? We know at times the ball seems to stick in two guys’ hands, Westbrook and (Kevin) Durant. They are going to have to get better flow. When you go against an excellent defensive team like Memphis you have to have great ball movement. The Grizzlies have some pretty good on-ball defenders in (Tony) Allen and Tayshaun Prince. It will be interesting if these guys can get better ball movement, man movement, find ways to get quick hitters for Westbrook and Durant. And try to get some contributions off the bench from (Reggie) Jackson, (Jeremy) Lamb, Perry Jones and Caron Butler. ... If Mike Conley — and this is a big if — if Conley plays Westbrook to a draw, Memphis wins the series. Westbrook has to dominate Mike Conley.”
Dennis Scott, NBA TV: “Is Russell Westbrook all the way back, that’s the first concern for me. Then, defensively can they get that intensity they had a few years ago when they made it to the finals. That was an impressive thing to me for Scott Brooks, getting those young guys to buy in on the defensive end because you know (Kevin) Durant and Westbrook are going to step up and set the table. And last, but not least, (Serge) Ibaka. You made him a jump shooter. Is there a better way to keep him involved offensively because you put so much on him on the defensive end to guard the best low-post scorer, which he does a great job at. And the Jeremy Lambs, the Reggie Jacksons, are you guys ready to take the next step to be better role players to complement what the stars do for you.”
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