Despite another dominating win by the Thunder to even the Western Conference Finals at 2-2, only TNT studio analyst Charles Barkley is picking the Thunder to win the series. Studio analysts Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal are sticking with the Spurs, their original choices.
Barkley said the Thunder is “night and day” better with Serge Ibaka back in the lineup. “They beat them 4-zip for a reason,” Barkley said about the Thunder’s regular-season record against the Spurs.
He also noted the Thunder “has two nuclear weapons that can go off any given Sunday.”
O’Neal said the Spurs would prevail because of their home court advantage.
Smith said the Spurs’ two first two wins at home likely “got them over the hump” and they play well at home, especially the reserves.
The commentators had high praise for the “nuclear weapons” in Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
Smith said, “I thought overall this was the best game that they had played together.”
Barkley said: “They led this game with their energy tonight. It was beautiful to watch.”
Fox Sports Oklahoma studio analyst Nancy Lieberman said: “It might have been the best game of Russell Westbrook’s career. I though his floor management was absolutely priceless.”
However, Barkley criticized Thunder coach Scott Brooks for playing his stars “too many minutes” in a lopsided game and thought it might have an adverse effect on them in Game 5 on Thursday night.
GAME CREW RAVES
Game analyst Steve Kerr, the new coach of the Golden State Warriors, ranked Westbrook as the second-best player on the planet behind LeBron James: “When you see the explosiveness, it stands out in a league of incredible athletes. He’s like off the charts, this guy.”