Thunder can't match Spurs defence
Spurs guard Manu Ginobili and Thunder guard Derek Fisher reach for a rebound during Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference final at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Tex., May 29, 2012. (MIKE STONE/Reuters)
You have to feel badly for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
That's one heck of a team - maybe the second-best in the entire NBA - yet the San Antonio Spurs look a fair bit better.
The Thunder can match the Spurs on offence - especially when James Harden is going off, Kevin Durant is doing his usual thing and Russell Westbrook is putting up 27 points, eight assists against zero turnovers.
That said, the Thunder always seems to be working extremely hard to put the ball in the basket, while Gregg Popovich's Spurs make scoring look so damn easy.
What also separates the two clubs is how much better San Antonio is defensively.
Serge Ibaka might have been second in defensive player of the year voting, but he's often out of place and as a whole, Oklahoma City has been unable to rotate quick enough to slow down such a well-oiled machine.
The Spurs move the ball like few teams in recent years and have more players who can consistently nail open shots than anybody in the league.
And then there's Tony Parker.
He was fifth in MVP voting for a reason. Parker gets wherever he wants to go on the court and expertly picks out open teammates when double or triple-teams come his way.
The Thunder has no answers for Parker and neither does anybody else.
The Spurs' winning streak will end at either 20 or 21, but at this point nobody thinks the Thunder can even win three games in this series, let alone four.
Even though the team did not move up, the Raptors probably aren't too upset with the results of the NBA's draft lottery.
A team from the West - New Orleans - got the only sure-fire franchise player, instead of teams from the East who will take more complementary talents from two to four.
Raptors big man Ed Davis had a message, via Twitter, for long-suffering Toronto fans:
"This is the last year we gonna be in that lottery thing."
For this year, don't expect the Raptors to keep all three draft picks.
"Adding three young prospects is not the end of the world, but probably not the best idea," said president/general manager Bryan Colangelo on a conference call.
While Colangelo said there are a number of players that really intrigue him early in the second round (37th overall), "the later pick will be something that's in play."
The team could also trade both second-rounders to move to the top of the second round.
TURNABOUT IS FAIR PLAY
The Cleveland Cavaliers got mighty luck a year ago - becoming the first team ever to jump from the eighth spot in the lottery all the way to first, where rookie of the year and star point guard Kyrie Irving was waiting.
This time, a team badly needing either Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Bradley Beal might have lost a chance at any of those players by dropping from three to four in the draft order.
The Cavs still might land Beal if another team gambles on the massive potential of UCONN big man Andre Drummond.
Not the start the Brooklyn Nets were looking for fresh off of a move from New Jersey.
While the New Jersey Devils are staying put (for now anyways) and are in the Stanley Cup Final, the odds of the Nets making a final anytime soon are now extremely remote.
Brooklyn's only chance of not ending up as the cellar-dwellar of the Atlantic Division for years to come is somehow managing to land Dwight Howard via a trade.
That won't be easy, since the team failed to crack the top three of the lottery and now must send its pic (No. 6 overall) to Portland, thanks to the horrendous Gerald Wallace gamble.
The Nets traded for Wallace hoping to impress Deron Williams, who will be the top free agent on the market this summer. Problem is, Williams apparently has eyes only for Howard.
So now, the Nets look most likely to spend a first season in Brooklyn without either Williams, Howard, or a top six selection.
Meanwhile, the rebuilding Blazers are sitting pretty with the 6th, 11th, 40th and 41st picks in the draft.
AROUND THE RIM
The Trail Blazers are down to three candidates to take over as general manager. According to the Oregonian, former New Orleans Hornets general manager Jeff Bower, Indiana GM David Morway and Los Angeles Clippers GM Neil Olshey are the contenders. Olshey is not expected to leave Los Angeles, but Morway might consider a move . Speaking of the Pacers, president Larry Bird said on Wednesday that contrary to reports, he is not interested in ceding day-to-day decision-making . Dennis Rodman was sentenced earlier this week to 104 hours of community service after being found guilty last year of four counts of contempt for failing to pay child support . Michael Jordan has told his good friend Patrick Ewing that he is no longer in the running to take over as Charlotte Bobcats head coach. That might be a blessing in disguise for Ewing since the Bobcats are horrendous and failed to win the first pick in the draft.
It's never too early to take a crack at a mock draft right?
So here, post-lottery is my first attempt at the top 10:
1. Anthony Davis - New Orleans No-brainer
2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist - Charlotte Will run the floor with Kemba Walker
3. Bradley Beal - Washington Great backcourt partner for John Wall
4. Harrison Barnes - Cleveland Kyrie Irving gets a shooter
5. Thomas Robinson - Sacramento Robinson and DeMarcus Cousins will be beastly.
6. Andre Drummond - Portland Worth the gamble.
7. Jared Sullinger - Golden State A safe pick.
8. Jeremy Lamb - Toronto - Great scorer, but some concerns about motor.
9. Dion Waiters - Detroit Pistons can't resist taking guys like this.
10. Damian Lillard - New Orleans Davis gets a point guard.