Sleepless in Seattle: Pistons visit the Sonics...err the Thunder

A strapping young man with a heart of gold lies restlessly in his new construction townhome overlooking Lake Union just north of Key Arena. The months of anxious anticipation for the coming day is culminating in a crescendo of emotion as his one true team arrived at SeaTac airport a few hours earlier.

While the Pistons have been fighting for ping-pong balls, his home away from home team has been movin’ and shakin’ making some of the smartest moves of the trade deadline in preparation for a potential post-season rematch against the NBA Champs.

Thoughts race through the strong-jawed bearded man’s mind as he contemplates matchups and how the Pistons HAVE to have a better shot at a win now that Jeff Green, the savior of the Sonics previous matchup against the Pistons, has been jettisoned to the Celtics for the sour-faced Kendrick Perkins and Nate “Kryptonite” Robinson.

At 3 AM, the dark-haired handsome man rises and decides to go for a run. Stepping outside, he feels the soft drizzle of rain on his face, takes a deep breath of impossibly fresh air, and takes off. He heads south along Eastlake Avenue past the bikini girl coffee stand waving to the cute sorority girl as he heads towards the Space Needle with The Final Countdown on repeat. Nothing gets him going like that final countdown. As he clears his head, the poetry and prose of George Blaha invade his thoughts and he feels a tinge of regret for knowing that he won’t be able to hear his words at the game tonight. After all, he’ll be sitting courtside just behind Jonas Jerebko and the rest of the Pistons team.

Hitting his stride at the 10 mile mark, it is now almost 5 AM and the man is still running. He’s made his way through downtown and finds himself south of the city in a less than reputable neighborhood. A familiar sound catches his attention and he stops in his tracks. Dribble, Dribble, Dribble…swish. Just down the street, he sees a young man, maybe 15, shooting on a city court. The man makes his way over to the court and offers to retrieve rebounds for a bit. The shooter obliges but rebounds rarely come as he drains shot after shot. The shooter catches and releases with a purpose. While only 15, the man can tell that this young baller is long, smooth, and can really stroke it.

As the rain continues, the man contemplates what brought this young shooter out to the courts so early. He pulls the headphones from his Windows Phone 7 allowing the powerful speakers on the back of the phone to blast out The Final Countdown to the benefit of the young shooter. Everyone loves the final countdown.

“Why are you here?” says the strong-jawed man as the shooter drains another from just outside the arc. “Kevin Durant is why I’m here,” he responds. “What do you mean?” catching another make and sending a crisp chest pass back to the shooter. “I want to be like Kevin Durant. He is why I’m here. He is why I’m not out gang-bangin’ with my friends or getting drunk. He’s why I keep my grades up and he’s why I love the game of basketball. And one day? I’m gonna be just like him.”

Keep dreamin’ after the break…

The man wakes up from his dream, his heart racing. As the significance of the dream sets in, he realizes that he won’t be sitting courtside tonight, and that young man on the city court has no inspiration to fuel his dreams. He sits up, takes a sip from the glass of water on his night stand and quietly says to himself, "Damn you Clay Bennett."

What’s Really Happening Today?

The Pistons are forced to travel to the dusty state of Oklahoma to play the "franchise" with the least interesting team name in the NBA for no reason other than the fact that Clay Bennett is an a-hole. Meanwhile, I’m forced to watch the game on TV instead of sitting courtside at the Key. What a bunch of BS.

As a Seattle resident by way of Detroit, last season was hard to watch, but this season has been almost unbearable. While the Pistons have continued their new found tradition of failure, Kevin Durant is quickly cementing his place among the superstars in the NBA and it appears as if Russell Westbrook is close behind. They’ve got the reigning Coach of the Year in Scott Brooks and a GM who has put together an exciting, young team through smart draft picks, smart trades, and given the most recent news of Perkins’ contract extension, smart signings.

The Thunder are 40-23 and lead the Northwest division (despite not being located in the NW), currently 3 games up on the Denver Nuggets. They made probably the most interesting and one of the most surprising trades at the deadline in acquiring Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson for an overrated Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic while somehow also acquiring Nazr Mohammed from Charlotte for seemingly nothing. While the big market teams may get all the attention, the Thunder are cruising under everyone’s radar in a similar fashion to the Pistons in 2004.

They now have the frontcourt to go toe-to-toe with anyone in the West or the East, have 2 legitimate backup point guards in Eric Maynor and Nate Robinson, a superstar 6’11" SG/SF, and a personal favorite of mine, Sergeballu LaMu Sayonga Loom Walahas Jonas Hugo Ibaka. Needless to say, the Thunder will likely cause a lot of problems for their opponents this post-season and I hate the fact that after the Spurs, they’re the team I’d love to see end up in the Finals.

What to Watch For

With Kendrick Perkins questionable for today’s game, the Thunder will likely fill their frontcourt by splitting Perk’s minutes between Nazr, Collison, Ibaka, and a splash of Cole Aldrich. While many of us last draft were interested in bringing Cole’s talents to Detroit, the Thunder made some smart draft day moves to pick him up. Unfortunately for Cole, he’s played much of his season in the NBDL where he’s averaged 10.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks in 29 minutes per game while shooting 54% from the field. Since being recalled, his PT has been spotty at best and saw the most action of the season playing 18 minutes against the Pacers at the beginning of March where he had as many fouls as points (4) and pulled down 5 boards to go with 1 block.

Meanwhile, Greg Monroe is coming off a 16/10 performance that featured NINE offensive rebounds so it will be interesting to see how he fares against the Thunder’s revamped frontcourt.

Question of the Game

I’m currently taking bets on who starts in our backcourt tonight. Will Kuester implement yet another inexplicable roster change or will he "stick" with the most recent starting 5 that allowed the Spurs to make on their first 14 attempts from the field on Wednesday…Needless to say, the anticipation is killing me.

OKC’s sports blog would like to welcome you to loud city…unfortunately it doesn’t look like anyone is making any noise. I can guarantee things would be different if the team were still in Seattle.

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