Kyle Soppe also writes about the NBA for Pickin’ Splinters. Follow him on Twitter.
Statements were made by the 76ers and Thunder last night, and while they were made in very different fashions, they were equally impressive. The 76ers stole home-court advantage from the Celtics, and are now in a solid position to push this series to at least 6 if not 7 games. The Thunder were never challenged by the Lakers, proving just how far they have come in 2 short years.
76ers @ Celtics – 76ers even series with gutty 82-81 win
MVP: Lavoy Allen
As is typical in Philadelphia wins, contributions were abundant up and down the roster. Allen provided a strong punch off of the bench, as indicated by his game high +21 plus/minus ratio. He scored 10 points on 7 shots while grabbing a 8 rebounds (a game high 3 on the offensive end) in 30 solid minutes of action. He matched his first half point production in a third quarter that saw the 76ers seize control of the game. Take into account his 2 steals and 2 blocked shots, and you’ve got yourself the most valuable Sixer of the night, and potentially a matchup problem moving forward.
Lakers @ Thunder – Thunder dominate from opening tip on their way to a convincing 119-90 win
MVP: Russell Westbrook
The Lakers had plenty of problems defending Ty Lawson last series, and that defensive weakness was magnified by Westbrook last night. The OKC point guard played only the first three quarters, and his scoring output increased with every set of 12 minutes. His 76.2 TS% was as impressive as anything, as he slashed through the porous Laker defense without any problems. Westbrook led the loaded Thunder attack in plus/minus ratio (+27), assist to turnover ratio (9:1), and points (27). For good measure, he grabbed as many rebounds as Pau Gasol (7), a big reason why the Lakers only managed 11 second chance points, while the Thunder tallied 21. With Chris Bosh ailing for the Miami Heat and the lack of respect for the Spurs, OKC may very well be the public’s choice to win the first of what could be many titles in the Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook era.