In the final days before the 2011 NBA postseason begins, a potential Thunder-Nuggets series in the opening round continues to heat up.
Denver reserve point guard Raymond Felton told the Denver Post on Monday that he wants to face the Thunder in the first round. That would be the 4-5 matchup in the Western Conference's first round if the current standings hold. The Nuggets are locked into the fifth seed, but the Thunder can move up depending on how Dallas and the Los Angeles Lakers finish the season.
“Hopefully we get Oklahoma City because I feel like we owe them,” Felton is quoted as saying. “Everybody (else) is pretty much ‘whatever, whoever, we'll be ready to go.' But I want them, though. They were doing a little bit of trash talking so I want them.”
The Thunder defeated the Nuggets twice last week, winning by seven at Denver and by 15 inside Oklahoma City Arena. Denver coach George Karl took Felton's comments a step further, essentially calling the Thunder arrogant.
“There's no question there's a cockiness to Oklahoma City that we're anxious to see if that's what we've got to go through,” Karl said.
The final seeding will be set following tonight's league-wide regular season finales. If the Lakers win at Sacramento and the Mavs win at home against New Orleans, the Thunder and Nuggets will face off in the opening round, with Oklahoma City having home-court advantage.
SEASON FINALE SET
Game 82 of the Thunder's season has arrived.
Oklahoma City's 2010-11 regular season will end with Wednesday night's home game against Milwaukee. The Bucks are 34-47 and just missed sneaking into the Eastern Conference playoffs as the eighth seed.
The Thunder is 22-7 against Eastern Conference teams and won by one at Milwaukee in the first meeting on Nov. 20. Oklahoma City is also 3-0 in regular season finales. The Thunder beat Memphis by nine last season and defeated the Clippers in Los Angeles by 41 two years ago.
“We got one more left,” said Kevin Durant. “We can't look past the Bucks. We want to win and end the season out right and try to get ready for these playoffs.”
DURANT, WESTBROOK HEATING UP
One positive two-game trend from the Thunder's trip to Los Angeles and Sacramento is the play of Durant and Russell Westbrook. Both had big offensive games, something that, for one reason or another, hasn't been incredibly consistent this season.
In the 120-106 win against the Lakers on Sunday, though, Durant had 31 points on 11 of 15 shooting and Westbrook had 26 points on 8-for-20 shooting along with seven assists. And in Monday's 120-112 win against the Kings, Durant scored a game-high 32 points on 8-for-16 shooting while getting to the foul line 17 times. Westbrook had 30 points on 12 of 22 shooting to go with nine assists.
“That's what we're going to need to go far, I think,” Durant said. “But we got to this point because of our bench and guys helping each other out.
“But it is a plus for me and Russ to come out here and play well. That's what we want to do. That's what we play hard for. We're not going to have it going every game, and that's when guys have to step up.”
“He and Donte both have arguably the toughest challenge night in and night out in the NBA guarding Kevin Durant. They both worked hard. Held him to 32. A lot of people don't do that. That's facetious to some extent, but that guy, he's a scoring machine.” —Sacramento coach Paul Westphal on Kings forwards Francisco Garcia and Donte Greene defending Kevin Durant.