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First: Cup: Wednesday

  • Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman: This is scripting like 2012, when the Thunder came home down 0-2, only get to huge games from Ibaka (Game 3) and Thabo Sefolosha (Game 4), then went to San Antonio rejuvenated and stole homecourt advantage. ... The mindset Tuesday was aggression. Aggression on offense, where the Thunder again attacked the paint and was rewarded with 31 foul shots. And aggression on defense, where Westbrook darted all over the court to make life miserable on Parker, and where Westbrook’s teammates didn’t let the Spurs sharpshooters roam free. ... The Thunder is indeed resilient. The Thunder has a chance to join the 2001 76ers as the only team to make the NBA Finals after trailing in each of their first three series. Of course, it’s easy to bounce back when you add Ibaka to the recipe. And the Thunder returns to San Antonio knowing it has defeated the Spurs seven straight times, and 12 of 14 times, with Ibaka in the lineup. Which is where Serge will be come Thursday night in a series that is feeling an awful lot like 2012.

  • Ryan Aber of The Oklahoman: With yet another big scoring night, Kevin Durant moved into the top 50 in NBA history in playoff scoring. Durant’s 31 points puts him at 2,053 career playoff points, 27 more than Kevin Johnson and 10 more than Jason Kidd for 50th place. Durant is five behind Hall of Famer Tom Heinsohn for 49th place. Thunder guard Derek Fisher is No. 44 on the list.

  • Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News: If the Thunder got back into the Western Conference Finals in Game 3, they were just getting warmed up for Game 4, hammering the Spurs 105-92 Tuesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena in a second straight contest that wasn’t as close as the final scorewould indicate. ... No matter who was on the court, the Spurs had no answer for Russell Westbrook or Kevin Durant, who combined for 71 points in one of the best joint playoff games of their career. A Game 5 victory on Thursday will put the Spurs back in control, with 82 percent of teams winning that pivotal game in 2-2 series going on to win. But having lost seven straight games to Oklahoma City with Serge Ibaka in the lineup, and 12 of 14 dating back to a certain playoff series in 2012, not even the friendly confines of the AT&T Center might be enough to rejuvenate a team that appears to have been thoroughly rattled. “(Going home) isn’t going to settle things down,” Tim Duncan said. “We have to make it happen.”

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: With a victory in Wednesday's Game 5 of these Eastern Conference finals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Miami Heat not only would punch their ticket to a fourth consecutive NBA Finals, but would not play another home game until June 10, with the Western Conference representative hosting the first two games of the Finals. With a loss Wednesday in Indiana, it would mean a return to Biscayne Boulevard for a Friday 8:30 p.m. Game 6 against the Indiana Pacers in this best-of-seven series. "We don't want to come back with a Game 6," forward LeBron James said, with the Heat bypassing practice before flying Tuesday. "We love our fans, obviously. We love being in Miami. But we want to try to close it out." If nothing else, the Heat have been efficient this postseason, their 11-2 record the franchise's best ever 13 games into a postseason, having stood 10-3 through 13 games of their championship runs each of the previous two seasons. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra nonetheless downplayed the closeout angle Tuesday.

  • Scott Agness of Pacers.com: Having lost three straight games, the Pacers must win the next three games – two at home – to move on to the NBA Finals. The difficulty level is high going against the greatest player in the world, LeBron James, and the rest of the two-time defending NBA Champions. NBA history, where only eight of 222 teams have come back from a 3-1 hole, backs up the tall task ahead of them. The Pacers, though, can’t think of it that way. They simply have to approach it one game at a time, but with the utmost urgency. Turnovers were the biggest issue in Game 4. They gave it away 14 times, which allowed the Heat to do what they do best—get out and score in fast break situations. Miami has scored more points off turnovers in all but one of their 13 games this postseason and have forced opponents into double-digit turnovers in every game. Pacers coach Frank Vogel said Tuesday after reviewing the tape that Miami’s defensive pressure took them out of what they wanted to do, and that they weren’t disciplined with their fouling. In turn, starters Lance Stephenson and Roy Hibbert sat on the bench much longer than they would’ve liked and the team was unable to sustain their usual rotations.

  • Michael Cohen of The Commercial-Appeal: They chose their seats just two days after Grizzlies owner Robert Pera held a #factsonly Q-and-A with fans on Twitter, just a few days after it was believed head coach Dave Joerger was heading to Minnesota, just a week after CEO Jason Levien was fired. To say the franchise experienced a bit of upheaval is to put it mildly, and whether or not ticket sales were influenced by the preceding chaos remained to be seen the source of O’Connor’s chortle. “Ha,” Dennis O’Connor said, a wry smile across his face. “Um, yeah. Any time you make changes you’re going to be worried. But we’ve had a history here of making changes and they’ve done well for us. We believe in our ownership group and our entire front office and have confidence that no matter what we’re going to do, on the floor it’s going to be a win for us. And I think our fan base is seeing that.” The Grizzlies had a remarkable 90 percent renewal rate for season ticket packages last season, with interest spiking courtesy of a lengthy playoff run to the Western Conference finals. O’Connor said Tuesday he hopes to meet that lofty threshold once again, or at least come “darn close to it.”

  • Scott Cacciola of The New York Times: But it may be time to make room for one more member of the N.B.A. player’s ever-expanding staff: the personal statistician. Justin Zormelo, a 30-year-old Georgetown graduate, is at the forefront of a growing industry, his services a must-have accessory for the playoffs. Zormelo, who spends hours every day hunkered over a laptop in his home office, has become the go-to source for players who want a private guide through the emerging world of advanced analytics. ... “I take a lot of time to figure out different formulas for efficiency,” said Zormelo, who has had more than 30 N.B.A. clients since starting a company called Best Ball Analytics in 2011. “I’m trying to stay a step ahead.” Zormelo’s rise reflects a broader shift in the N.B.A. toward an embrace of “Moneyball”-style analytics — such as player efficiency ratings — that did not exist a generation ago. Intangibles like a player’s “killer instinct” or his “clutch performance” have given way to mathematical equations that quantify every aspect of the game. Zormelo’s career took off three years ago when he began working for Kevin Durant, the league’s leading scorer and most valuable player.

  • Mitch Abramson of the New York Daily News: Bernard King is showing that money trumps nostalgia. King had to wait his turn before he was welcomed into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame last year. Now, the Brooklyn product and former Knicks great is wasting little time profiting from the honor. King, who spent four seasons with the Knicks, is selling off his Hall of Fame induction ring and Hall of Fame trophy Thursday at the Nate D. Sanders auction house in Los Angeles. The two items were initially set for bidding starting at $40,000 for the ring and $32,500 for the trophy. But King chose to sell the items to the auction house rather than put them up for consignment, where he would have waited 45 days to receive payment, Sanders said.