Podcast Shanks – Mavs and Thunder Free Agency

NBA free agency is always one of the more excitement and in many cases, tense times of year. Contenders can be reduced to bottom feeders with the devastating loss of a superstar while other teams who may be on the bubble could surge ahead thanks to a key acquisition. Or, you could just be the damn Warriors and Spurs and sign everybody…

For teams who don’t have that luxury, however, Darreck Kirby and Brennan Scala of Podcast Shanks take a look at the prospects for the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder and discuss how they can try to get back in the thick of contention.

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Mavs Rout Thunder Behind Smothering Defense

Seth-Curry-Crossover

The return of Wes Matthews provided Dallas with an added spark Sunday night. It wasn’t that the team hadn’t been playing defense already -far from it. With their 104-89 victory tonight, Dallas strung together its seventh straight sub-100 defensive effort. Not bad for the boys in blue. The best example of this was a wild sequence in which Matthews took on Russell Westbrook at the top of the key and simply hounded him with active hands and solid positioning. Every time Russell turned, the Mavs flashed an added defender, forcing the triple-double machine back toward Matthews. Westbrook and Wes danced a bit, then Russ flipped up an awkward off-balance shot at the buzzer that missed everything. The crowd erupted and Wes pumped his fist. Matthews might have only chipped in 9 points, but his relentless effort nevertheless fueled a stellar effort. [Read more…]

Controversy in OKC: Thunder/Clippers Game 5

By Darreck Kirby
PSDC NBA Writer

By now you’ve all likely seen or heard about the controversial pair of calls at the conclusion of Game 5 between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers. What you may not know, is that there shouldn’t even be a controversy to speak of.

Reggie.Jackson.Matt.Barnes.Controversial.Play

[Read more…]

Dallas Mavericks Rise Up, Edge Thunder in OT

By Darreck Kirby
PSDC Dallas Mavericks Beat Writer

It was one of the most exciting games of the season for the Dallas Mavericks, and one almost nobody expected them to win. Sure, the team dominated the Thunder a little over a week ago, but the Thunder were without All Star point guard Russell Westbrook at the time, thus disrupting the flow of their offense and removing a large chunk of their scoring punch not named Kevin Durant. So what hope could they possibly have this time around?

Photo Credit: USA Today

Photo Credit: USA Today

As it turns out, plenty. Dallas came out with something to prove, not just to themselves but to the rest of the Western Conference, really. The team’s overtime loss Sunday night against the Nets dropped them outside of the playoff picture, leaving some to question their chances. But behind Dirk’s vintage performance (32 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals), and Monta Ellis’ fourth quarter brilliance, Dallas battled back to force overtime against the Thunder and who is certain to be the league’s MVP this year, Kevin Durant. [Read more…]

Westbrook, Durant Too Much For Mavs As Thunder Coast

By Darreck Kirby
PSDC Dallas Mavericks Beat Writer

Despite the lose of James Harden, the Oklahoma City Thunder proved last year that they are still contenders to be reckoned with. They proved that again against Dallas Wednesday night.

The Thunder have now won 13 of the last 14 games in this series since Dallas eliminated OKC in the 2011 Western Conference Finals. That feels like a lifetime ago, but Dallas has remained a difficult matchup for the young Thunder despite their recent decline. Though they’ve been dominated in the win department in the past two-plus seasons, Dallas has almost always run with the young guns from I-35 North. Unfortunately moral victories don’t count for squat in the NBA.

The Mavs, coming off a blowout victory over the visiting Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday night, traveled the short three hours north to renew their newest rivalry against the Thunder. With this being Russell Westbrook’s second game back from a torn meniscus, the Mavs were cautiously optimistic to catch OKC before they hit their stride in this young season. That didn’t happen.

Thunder-Mavericks-Russell-Westbrook

Westbrook scored 22 points and dished out four assists, but it was his high energy, balanced scoring and explosive slams that sent the home crowd into a frenzy. Durant, meanwhile, added 23 points and 10 assists, and Serge Ibaka chipped in 17 points to go along with 13 boards. [Read more…]

NBA Flop Rule is in Full Effect

By Robbie Marbury
PSDC Basketball Jones

Blake Griffin has taken a pretty large step backwards this season, like one of those post-steroid dropoffs the MLB went through when they decided to test for illegal drugs.  Now, I am not saying that Griffin was taking any illegal substances, but he was benefiting from what is now illegal in the NBA…flopping. [Read more…]

Heat Win NBA Finals, LeBron Finds Elusive Title

By Matt Corder
PSDC Contributor

“It’s about damn time” -LeBron James

LeBron James couldn’t contain his happiness. Pulled from the game with three minutes remaining and the victory well in hand, James began his championship celebration on the bench. It’s hard to remember a Finals MVP who was that visibly happy, that willing to let the world get a glimpse inside. So many times a star player will collapse in exhaustion or cry like a baby, unable to speak to anyone. That’s not LeBron James, never has been. As he admitted after the game to Stuart Scott, he plays the game of basketball to be happy. He was never meant to play the game with the anger that drove people like Jordan. At long last, the King has a crown. LeBron James is a three-time MVP, a Finals MVP, and most importantly, he’s a champion. And I’ll be damned if he doesn’t deserve it. [Read more…]

Heat Take 3-1 Series Lead Despite LeBron Injury, Westbrook Heroics

By Matt Corder
PSDC Contributor

LeBron James sat and watched from the bench as his Miami teammates put the Heat within one win of an NBA title. He wasn’t in foul trouble, he wasn’t having a bad game, nor was he shrouded in shame. No, ill-timed leg cramps prevented the Heat’s MVP from playing the final minute of an outstanding Game 4 battle with the Thunder which was easily the best game of these NBA Finals. How fitting for James, after all these years of carrying awful lineups deep into the NBA playoffs, that it was his teammates who stepped up and carried him, both literally and figuratively to victory.

And what a game it was. [Read more…]

Heat Rely On Fundamentals, Take 2-1 Series Lead

By Matt Corder
PSDC Contributor

A dream series for NBA fans was bound to produce one stinker of a game. Game 3 smelled of desperation, tension and anxiety. Miami took an all important 2-1 series lead in what traditionally turns out to be the deciding game in the seven-game playoff format. But gosh if it wasn’t a sloppy victory.

Nerves were bound to take over at some point. After both teams executed at the highest of levels in the first two games, it was clear that the Thunder and Heat both knew that the stakes were now raised. The heavyweight fighters had seen the other’s best punches, knew exactly what their opponent was capable of doing. And the best part about it is that both know that they’re equally talented. As tends to be the case in nervous bouts, fundamentals were the deciding factor. [Read more…]

Thunder Top Heat, Battle of The Big Threes Turns Into Two Versus One

By Matt Corder
PSDC Contributor

A game billed as a battle of big threes turned out to be two versus one. LeBron James simply did not have enough to defeat the combination of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Coming off a tiring seven game series against a physical Boston Celtics team, the Miami Heat very much looked like a team lacking the necessary energy it will take to win the title while the Thunder very much lived up to their reputation as a team that never tires.

The first half was interesting. The Thunder came out very apprehensive and seemed unable to score on a tight Miami defense. Whereas the Spurs could not defend against Russell Westbrook coming off pick-and-rolls, the Heat seemed to find a way to disrupt the talented Thunder guard, trapping him with a double team every time he tried to use the play. The strategy worked and caused the Thunder to turn over the ball eight times in the first half. Compared to Miami’s four this was the primary factor in the Heat’s seven-point lead at the halfway point. [Read more…]

Swag-Off at the NBA Finals: The Game Inside the Game

By Robbie Marbury
PSDC Contributor 

The NBA Finals start Tuesday night with the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder set to square off in one of the most anticipated matchups in recent memory.  I would say there hasn’t been this much of anticipation for a NBA Finals since 1982 between the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers.  Oh, I forgot to mention, I am not talking about the actual games, I’m talking about the pre- and post-game outfits.  As far as basketball goes, I predicted the Thunder before the playoffs by comparing them to the movie ‘Billy Madison,’ so I’m going to ride them to win the games.  But when it comes to outfits, this one is a real toss up.

These two teams have been head-and-shoulders above the rest of the league when it comes to surprising clothing during post-game interviews.  There have been some nights when there is more talk on Twitter about one of Russell Westbrook’s goofy shirts than about the actual game.  It has become its own strange, wacky phenomenon.  [Read more…]

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Russell Westbrook

By Matt Corder
PSDC Contributor 

Of all the possible storylines left in the NBA playoffs, none fascinates me more than that of Russell Westbrook.  Westbrook is the controversial point guard of the Oklahoma City Thunder, now leading the San Antonio Spurs 3-2 in the Western Conference Finals.  On a game-to-game basis, only LeBron James faces more criticism.  This makes no sense.  Never in the history of the NBA has the second best player on a team been so unfairly burdened with expectations.  It’s even more depressing because Russell Westbrook is the most entertaining player in basketball.

There is no sport that sucks the fun out of a conversation in this country quite like basketball.  For whatever reason, America takes basketball way too seriously.  No sport draws more snap judgments and polarizing opinions.  Football strikes a passionate chord.  Baseball hits on a more romantic nostalgia.  But basketball, and in particular the NBA playoffs, turn sports fans into grumps.  Too many people exist that defend the “integrity” of the game and remind everyone who the best teams really are.  [Read more…]