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OKC Thunder: The unsung heroes

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OKC Thunder: The unsung heroes

The Oklahoma City Thunder are an enigmatic bunch that leaves everyone, probably including themselves, perplex each time they take the court.

Based on the talent, and offensive firepower they throw on the court, one would expect them to be invincible. But, their offensive nuclear power can also drive them to the ground. They can kill you, or themselves as quickly, and ruthlessly as a shark to blood infested waters. The catch: nobody knows, on a nightly basis, if they are the predator or the prey.

How many teams in NBA history could go at the Roar-acle, home of the 73-9 Warriors, the greatest team of all-time, and pull off an upset despite watching their two best players struggling to shoot the basketball?

Kevin Durant shot a pedestrian 10-30 from the field, and finished 10 points below his scoring average against the Warriors this season.

Russell Westbrook shot 7-21, partly due to his awful first half, but managed to end the game with a respectable 27 points, and 12 assists.

So, while Westbrook and Durant will continue to dominate, and lead the Thunder in scoring, I want to take some time to reflect upon the unsung heroes that have contributed immensely to the Thunder’s success in these playoffs.

Steven Adams, and Enes Kanter are proving to be extremely valuable to this team, and their dominance on the boards is what is keeping the Thunder alive.

In Monday night’s win at Golden State, Adams dominated the Warriors’ frontcourt with a 16 points, 12 rebounds, and two blocks effort that helped catapult the Thunder back into that game.

In the previous round, when everyone – including myself – thought the Spurs would laugh them off the building in four or five games, Kanter, and Adams became the mismatches that propelled the Thunder into the Conference Finals.

The two unheralded players established their rugged-and-rough style of play in their series against San Antonio, and thus far have kept it going against the Dubs.

Both Kanter, and Adams will never mistake anyone into believing they are key centerpieces to build a franchise around, but they play with as much heart, and fire as their indomitable point guard.

Adams was born, and raised in Rotorua, New Zealand. He is the youngest of 18 kids, and grew up in a rugby-mad country, and a city dominated by street gangs. In other words, toughness and attitude is his DNA.

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And, that is what he brings to the table on every play. A relentless warrior willing to do whatever it takes to help his team win the ball game. He is the guy who will trip Danny Green. A guy who will, fearlessly, push Tim Duncan over and stare him down without an ounce of care as to who ‘the Big Fundamental’ is.

Kanter, the Switzerland-native, Turkish basketball player from Kentucky, has yet to live to his 3rd overall draft pick status, but provides instant energy, heart, and hustle.

He and his Kiwi teammates have graciously accepted their roles as the ‘dirty job’ men. They patrol the paint forcing guards, and forwards to re-think their shot selections, and intimidate the opposition.

Against the Spurs, Adams averaged 3.5 offensive rebounds per game (21 total), and Kanter 3.3 (20 total), meaning that they gave their team an extra six to seven possessions each game of the hard-fought series.

And, when you think that three of those games were decided by four points or less, and two by fourteen, those extra possessions are where the Thunder won. An extra possession puts pressure on the defense, gives you more scoring chances, and with Kevin Durant, and Russ on the court, you will lose that battle.

Pat Riley famously said, “no rebounds, no rings,” and thus far the Thunder are outrebounding everybody.

In their first round series against the Mavericks, Adams recorded 38 rebounds in five games, a tad shy of eight boards per game. His partner in crime hauled in 35 in five games, meaning he averaged 7 rebounds per night.

As a team, the Thunder averaged 47.2 rebounds per game against Dallas who could only muster 35 rebounds per night. The biggest reason behind the Thunder whooping of the Mavericks was their dominance on the boards.

In their second round series against the Spurs, the Thunder hauled in 44.3 rebounds per game while the Spurs grabbed 38.8 boards a night. A much closer battle, which resulted in a much closer series, but in the end the result, was the same.

Monday night, the Thunder outrebounded Golden State 52 to 44, and this trend is likely to continue the rest of the series.

There is an old expression in French that goes “never twice without thrice!”

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NBA

Watch THIS Work! The WNBA Bets On Women

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watch this work the wnba bets on women
Fight and win like a girl...

Great expectations.

Ten years ago the motto of the Women’s National Basketball Association was to, ‘Expect Great’. Now a decade later and into the roaring 20’s of a whole new one and world, the league that tells you to watch them work truly has for all it’s worth.

The WNBA and CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) has reached a monumental moment in the leagues history and its time to read all about it on Los Angeles Sparks twin superstar Chiney Ogwumike’s Twitter thread.

It tells us the CBA means…

When it comes to players salary and compensation there will be a 30% increase to the salary cap as the higher max pay player salary jumps like Lisa Leslie’s first dunk from $117,500 to $215,000. Whilst there will be an additional compensation for those top tier Candace Parker players around $300,000. Moving millions this is thee first time the league has moved units like this in six figures. And like Russell Westbrook why not? Because for every player like him there’s an Ogwumike. For every Candace a LeBron. Every Luka Doncic a Breanna Stewart. Every Larry Bird a Sue. Kobe Bryant, Diana Taurasi. For every Michael Jordan a Lisa Leslie.

Every insufferable, couch potato chip, sexist fans who unlike a Suffragette doesn’t believe women deserves equal pay needs to check their pockets…yep like Rakim said that’s nothing but lint. Now paid in full these women deserve this and more like diversity at the Oscars. Just as good as the men like Michelle Wie (she’s not the logos sons wife people) golfing with the guys of you claim you’re “woke” on social media but can’t wake up to this then you’re about as woke as still in bed gone half 12 in the afternoon. It feels like all those trumped up people who had a problem with a female ‘Ghostbusters’ reboot. Or those old men who would rather bully a 17 year old girl with Aspergers online than believe in the actual happenings of climate change.

Sure there’s an argument that sportspeople shouldn’t be paid these ridiculous amounts of money. But the point is if the men get paid this much then why shouldn’t the women?

This should have happened a long time ago. But at least it’s happening now.

It’s about time.

Working mothers are also finally getting their due in a groundbreaking deal on this date. Players will receive a salary whilst on maternity leave with an additional new childcare stipend. Whilst up to $60,000 of progressive family planning benefits for veteran players for costs for adoption, surrogacy, oocyte cryopreservation, fertility and more. No longer will go hard greats like Skylar Diggins-Smith have to play whilst pregnant and hide it to protect herself whilst the CBA lists it as a “condition”.

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Perks of the game that the men have had for years and the world class women deserve just as such also include individual hotel rooms for players, more mandatory leg room on flights (how important is this for basketball players? The NBA would cry personal foul if the King and them would be forced to fly economy), and further for the finances, off-season job opportunities with league partners that along with the salary rise will mean that WNBA players won’t, overplayed and underpaid have to go overseas in the off-season to earn more money to make ends meet in foreign leagues. Something which has been a conditioning condition and pay for play issue since the leagues inaugural inception.

And let’s not forget about the players mental health too in major improvements across the board and world to an issue still surrounded with stigma despite the lengths taken and measures made. More resources will be offered in addition to the adoption of a Nutrition Council that will aid peak performance by offering players a commitment to this optimization.

But it’s probably the stand made by the WNBA and the CBA against violence to women which is the most important. Ending domestic and all sorts of violence to women which has happened to players around the league and still happens everyday, effecting everyone needs to end NOW like it should have never happened. It seems like such a ridiculously obvious thing to say…but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be said.

Again and again until we don’t have to.

The wide world has finally met the standards of the women’s game and league on the way to leveling the playing field. More of the same…do we really need to add the please now?

Betting on sporting events is a losers game. But betting on women-like the ones in this league-is a sure thing.

The game changed for real today.

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NBA

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 20 Pts, 20 Rebs, 10 Asts first Canadian NBA triple-double since 2006

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shai gilgeous alexander 20 pts 20 rebs 10 asts first canadian nba triple double since 2006
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 20 points, 20 rebounds, 10 assists joins elite NBA company

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Hamilton, ON) became only the second Canadian basketball player in NBA history to record a triple-double — and the first in nearly 14 years, since Steve Nash in 2006.

Gilgeous-Alexander racked-up 20 points, career-high 20 rebounds and 10 assists in the 117-104 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. The former one-and-done Kentucky Wildcat continued his efficient campaign shooting 8-of-12 field goals, connecting 2-of-3 triples and 2-of-2 from the foul-line.

Steve Nash recorded three triple-doubles in his illustrious 18-year career, the last one on April 19, 2006 — Nash finished with 16 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.

The 20 rebounds is also a record-high by a Canadian guard and only the second 20/20 double-double by a Canadian — Jamaal Magloire notched a 22 point, 21 rebound game against the Toronto Raptors’ on March 21, 2004.

Most rebounds by a Canadian in the NBA

Samuel Dalembert (Montreal, QC) holds the record for the most rebounds in a NBA game with 23 against the Golden State Warriors on March 20, 2009. Followed by Magloire 22 and Tristan Thompson with 21.

Gilgeous-Alexander becomes the youngest guard to record 20-20-10 stat-line and joins Russell Westbrook as the only guards with a 20-point, 20-rebound triple-double over the last 30 seasons. He is also the youngest player in NBA history with a 20-rebound triple-double, passing Shaquille O’Neal.

RJ Barrett became the first Canadian basketball player to record a triple-double at the NCAA level in nearly 35 years during his lone freshman season with the Duke Blue Devils.

The OKC Thunder continue their playoff push with their 18 victory in the last 25 games and currently sit in 7th place in the western conference.

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The Canadian guard is currently averaging 20 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists — shooting 46.4% from the floor, 33.6% from three-pointers and 81.6% from the foul-line while turning the ball over just 1.9 per game.

Canada NBA All-Star Drought

The 2020 NBA All-star game in Chicago is less than month away and as it currently stands, Gilgeous-Alexander doesn’t currently rank as one the top fan vote earners in a guard heavy western conference. Nevertheless, the Canadian stud could end Canada’s eight year NBA all-star game drought by earning a coach’s selection.

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