Continuing our on-going discussion with J.A. Sherman of Welcome to Loud City, here's his take on the Thunder's trade-deadline moves. You can find my (admittedly brief) thoughts HERE--you're all encouraged to join in the conversation! I know Sherm will be lurking around here, still high off their win against Miami...
I think that the Thunder are still the best team in the West, but I would have to qualify that I think this because the Thunder have struggled with fewer Western Conference teams than the Spurs have. In fact, from the look of your schedule, 12 of your 14 losses have come against teams in the West, whereas the Thunder can boast of a slightly better record in that area. The difference is marginal though to the point of being inconsequential, I think. When we get down to it, I still believe that the Spurs are an unfavorable match-up against the Thunder this season, and so I hope that OKC continues to work to keep that ever-shrinking lead over the Spurs in the standings. Strangely enough, a potential first round match-up against the Houston Rockets looms for either of our teams, and for the life of me I can't understand why Houston seems to give both the Spurs and Thunder trouble (we both have dropped two games to the Rockets this season).
As for Derek Fisher, I know as well as you do that "0.4" is as much about Fisher as it is about the Spurs. I know that his ridiculous shot in the 2004 playoffs allowed that Lakers' Mary Shelley-esque monstrosity to continue its march to a Finals embarrassment, a Finals which could have well been taken by the Spurs. Even though the Lakers' survival led to a righteous beating by the Pistons on those same Lakers that would have made Bill the Butcher proud, I still saw that playoff sequence as glass half-empty in part because of "0.4." Needless to say, I've had a few emotions to deal with over the past week.
I admit that I was not thrilled with the Fisher signing, but even with my discontent I don't see it as a terrible thing as long as the Thunder remember what exactly he brings to the table. At this stage in his career, his negatives outweigh his positives - he can't shoot, he can't defend, and he survives as much on his reputation as any thing else these days (to be sure though, it's a pretty solid reputation). The one positive thing that he can bring though, and what makes the signing not too troublesome for me, is that Fisher has been through the fire enough times that we know he is not going to get rattled by big moments. Those moments are the kind where your starting PG finds himself in foul trouble in a playoff game and the backup has to run the team for an extra 15 minutes to keep things from falling apart. Perhaps Fisher won't make game-saving plays, but he won't turtle, either.
I'm never going to get psyched up when I see Fish enter the game. Hopefully though sequences like last week's OKC double-OT win over the Timberwolves, where Fisher logged 36 minutes and bricked numerous key shots and had me screaming into a pillow whilst babies slept and mothers dreamed, will be kept to a minimum and I won't feel the need to hurl again.