Tyler J. Scott
THE SANTA CLARA
February 26, 2015
I thought the NBA playoffs were pretty clear-cut before the 2015 trade deadline shook everything up.
The Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks were content to sit in their respective No. 1 seeded thrones and made no changes. But many competing or “fringe” teams made moves.
In the West, the Phoenix Suns traded away two of their “Three-Headed Dragon” offense consisting of three point guards, probably trading away their shot at the eighth seed in the playoffs. They dealt Goran Dragic to the Miami Heat and Isaiah Thomas to the Boston Celtics.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder, behind an inspired Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, have come storming back to claim the eighth seed from the Suns. As of Tuesday, the Thunder have a three-game advantage on now-No. 10 Phoenix.
The Thunder made major flips before the trade deadline on Feb. 19 as well. They dealt away point guard Reggie Jackson and forward Kendrick Perkins, and received guard D.J. Augustin, forward Kyle Singler and center Enes Kanter.
In their first game as members of OKC on Feb. 21 against the Charlotte Hornets, Kanter and Singler started, with Kanter getting a double-double and Westbrook netting 33 points and 10 assists. He then eloquently previewed how improved the Thunder will be with the new additions.
“Uh oh,” he said with a smile after their fifth straight win.
In their next game against the Denver Nuggets, Westbrook had 21 points, eight rebounds and a career-high 17 assists. In those two games, the Thunder were without Durant, who replaced a screw in his previously injured foot.
Not only has Westbrook vaulted into the MVP discussion, but he has elevated a Durant-less Thunder team to a scary potential No. 8 seed.
Besides the Thunder in the West, the current No. 5-seeded Dallas Mavericks added Amar’e Stoudemire before the deadline and the current No. 4 seed Portland Trail Blazers acquired Arron Afflalo from the Nuggets.
In the East, the Heat, who are the No. 7 seed right now, received Dragic from the Suns and were looking like a newly dangerous and capable team until star forward Chris Bosh found out he will miss the remainder of the season due to a blood clot in one of his lungs.
The No. 8 seed Brooklyn Nets acquired Thaddeus Young at the deadline and will face the Hawks in the first round.
All of these changes have shaken up the landscape and will certainly make for an interesting finish to the regular season and the playoffs.
The Hawks and Warriors have new foes gunning for their heads, and I’m excited to see how it plays out.
Tyler J. Scott is a junior marketing major and the editor of the Sports section.