In clinching the series Thursday night in Los Angeles, ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy credited the Thunder’s experience for the victory after a sluggish start from stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
“It’s called maturity, Mike,” said Van Gundy, who worked with play-by-play announcer Mike Breen. “The ability to start bad and still finish strong. Not a lot of young players can handle the adversity early and still find a way to having a great game.”
Breen said: “It was a turnaround game for Durant. A horrible start and just a sparkling finish.”
Fox Sports Oklahoma analyst Nancy Lieberman credited the Thunder's faster tempo in the fourth quarter. “It looked like Thunder basketball,” she said on the postgame show. “I always say, they have to have fun and it looked like they had fun in the fourth quarter playing the high- tempo style.”
Van Gundy had high praise for reserve big men Nick Collison and Steven Adams, who played big roles.
On Collison’s strong third quarter, culminating with a 3-point shot to tie the game: “What about the professionalism of Nick Collison? DNP in the first half. Then the (Serge) Ibaka injury plus foul trouble allows him to play in this quarter and he plays great.”
On Adams’ improvement: “He has improved so much the course of the season and he taken another jump in the playoffs — active, aggressive.”
Other Van Gundy comments:
•On his brother Stan’s new lucrative contract (reportedly five years, $35 million) as coach and president of the Detroit Pistons: “He has enough excess cash to pay the bill for ESPN.”
•On Doc Rivers’ $25,000 fine for criticizing the officiating after Game 5: “I love the little tap on the wrist they gave Doc Rivers. I wouldn’t be surprised if they gave him the money back at the end of the year ...The previous administration would have got him for 75 (thousand).
•On Blake Griffin’s moves: “Griffin is so dynamic in the open court — agility, strength, jumping ability and he handles the ball like a perimeter player.”
•On the Clippers leaving KD wide open for a 3: “Memo to all Clippers. Do not leave the MVP wide open.”
•Van Gundy and Breen both said they had tired of the Donald Sterling saga amid news he planned to sue the league.
Van Gundy: “I can’t wait for the day when I don’t hear the name Sterling.”
Breen: “Agreed. He should go by the old Mark Twain phrase. It’s better to remain silent and appear ignorant than open your mouth and remove all doubt.”
•After Van Gundy joking noted that he thought Rihanna was following him, sideline reporter Lisa Salters asked her about it at halftime and she said she didn’t even know who Van Gundy is. “You just deflated my whole night,” Van Gundy said. “I’m heart-broken you didn’t know who I was.”
•Van Gundy gave a shoutout to former broadcast colleague Mark Jackson, who recently was fired as Golden Staten coach, after a Durant layup: “Mama, there goes that man.”
•Analyst Bill Simmons said he thought the teams were still learning about each other, even in Game 6: “I feel like they haven’t figured out each other yet.”
•Analyst Jalen Rose said he attributed that to the quality of players: “Because you see four of the top 10 players in the series... Very tough matchups.”
•Simmons said Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers should be concerned because the Clippers didn’t have bigger lead. He said he expected the Thunder would make a run. Rose and analyst Doug Collins both predicted the Clippers would force a Game 7.