The Margin: Oklahoma City 109, San Antonio 103

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You know the routine: One talking point for each point of the differential.

    • Stealing from my own Twitter commentary…Adjustments matter. Scott Brooks waited four quarters too long to adjust his high pick and roll coverage. He eventually brought Kendrick Perkins in from the slaughter, but not before the Thunder found themselves down 0-2. Well, it took Gregg Popovich four quarters too long to play DeJuan Blair instead of Tiago Splitter. The series is now tied 2-2. This is probably the stuff of a standalone post, but Blair is better suited to bother the Thunder. Splitter is an easy cover for OKC. Blair finished +6, but that doesn’t really tell the story. Re-watch the Thunder’s defense as it attempts to account for Blair on the screen and roll.

 

    • Danny Green, Tiago Splitter, and Matt Bonner. Aargh! Two out of three of these players won’t see much playing time until the NBA Finals, when and if. I’ll let you determine which two I have in mind.

 

    • Holy Serge Ibaka. I’m so thankful Manu Ginobili understands regression to the mean. Otherwise, the entire Spurs lockerroom might be discouraged by his 11-11 outing. Hopefully, Ibaka’s performance will trick him into believing he can do that every night. (Historical footnote: the Spurs, Thunder, and Cavs (Lindsey, Presti, and Ferry, I believe) once worked out Serge Ibaka in a private (Spurs alumni) session at Treviso. It was an odd draft for the Spurs. Presti chose Ibaka two picks before the Spurs, and then Kevin Pritchard traded up to grab Nico Batum one pick ahead of San Antonio. The Spurs picked Hill, and later traded him for Kawhi Leonard, Erazem Lorbek, Davis Bertans, and cap relief. I’m still not sure what to make of that draft. The Spurs would have won either way, however.)

 

    • The possession thing: After one quarter, the Spurs were on pace for a 100+ pace game. Then came the second disastrous quarter in as many games. San Antonio finished with 93 possessions. The math doesn’t lie. The Spurs were outscored 29-17 in tonight’s second quarter. San Antonio was outscored 32-17 on Thursday night. The Spurs need to re-think their early second quarter rotation. Of note, starting Ginobili, Neal, Splitter, Green, Diaw at the beginning of the second frame amounted to minus-5. On Thursday, Neal, Splitter, Bonner, Jackson, and Ginobili went minus-7. In both games, the pace bottomed out in the second quarter. My theory says Neal and Splitter are the problems. Neal takes too much time advancing the ball, essentially killing San Antonio’s opportunities at early offense. The Spurs were doing fine with Parker charging ahead or bypassing the pick and roll in favor of early clock isolation. Splitter’s minutes need to go to Blair for more reasons than I can discuss in a Margin, but you’ll have to trust me. Blair is the obvious play. Again, the math doesn’t lie.

 

    • The Spurs’ defense could prove their Achilles heel. It’s greatly improved since the beginning of the season, but Durant carved them up tonight. 13-20. 9-9. Durant was a one man wrecking crew.

 

  • At 20, Kawhi Leonard is a good basketball player. By 23, he could be an All-Star. Three clutch plays tonight. One alert offensive rebound and stick back, two closing minute corner threes. And, so far as a rookie is concerned, he played several terrific defensive possessions on Kevin Durant. Durant still scored, but it was only because his offense is better than even the world’s tightest defensive contest. Leonard did what he could. No complaints.
  • Chromao

    We should be thankful that OKC took three games to adjust and we are even 2-2. If Scotty Brooks had played Sefolosha more in game 1 (and put him on Parker earlier) and Ibaka more in Game 2, we probably would be down 1-3 (if not swept already). OKC can easily afford to play only their main seven players (Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka, Sefolosha, Harden, Perkins, Collison) , without breaking a sweat. The result is that we are not catching any break against a lesser lineup (particularly in the 2nd Q). They are ALL young, They do not have to manage minutes like we do.  On the other hand, Diaw’s defense is terrible, Neal is also a liability on defense, Green and Bonner cannot hit an open shot. Sorry for the rant, but I have had a bad feel for this series from the beginning. 

  • Justinray

    just like the mavs “could have” been up 2-0 on the mavs heading back to dallas? ignorant much? each game is played for a reason. we won our two at home as did they… we go home where the crowd is behind us and the refs might actually call a goaltend or 3 on ibaka. we ran out to a 10 point lead in this game…. anotherer “COULDA SHOULDA WOULDA” if thats what you wanna base everything off of

  • Justinray

    *on the thunder

  • Bob

    How many of those jumpers was he open on? You can easily hit 75-80% unguarded.

  • STIJL

    I think this is a mirrored description if the Spurs were playing the Heat. So…if the Spurs can figure this one out…it would probably bode well for the Spurs if they can get through the Thunder.

    But…what was ailing the Spurs in the beginning of the season is the same thing that will end their season being nothing was done about their weakest link during the season.  Spurs don’t have a reckonable front court to go all the way.  And after the smoke is gone from the smoke and mirror season…all that is left is the staring at one’s self to be reminded of this truth.

    Spurs are going to live or die by the production of their backcourt.  Any opponent that can keep them at bay will have a really good chance of winning.

  • STIJL

    Also…I think this might prove that Danny Green is only a product of the system only able to perform at his best when everything else is going right while Kawhi Leonard is proving to be the exception to the rule if things are not going right.

  • 405Thunder

    This is exactly right. I have a lot more hope for the Thunder now than I did after the first two games, but in the playoffs, it means nothing once a game is over. We heard both the Lakers and the Mavs in the previous two series talk about how they should have been up in the series, but they weren’t. The Thunder was, and they won those series.

    These last two games have shown OKC that they can play with the Spurs, and that they can beat them, but it doesn’t mean anything if they don’t beat them. The only thing that matters is the series is 2-2 now, and the Spurs still have home court advantage.

    It’s been a really fun series so far, and I have nothing but respect for the Spurs and their organization. However it turns out, I’m glad to have been able to witness this, and hopefully the Western Conference (whether it’s my Thunder or your Spurs) will show the East how to really play basketball.

    See you guys in San Antonio!

  • Matt

    Why isn’t anyone talking about Timmy’s lost midrange jumper? That’s the shot that made him look younger and allowed him to open up other areas of his game. All he’s been doing is hesitating and taking dumber shots or he’s been posting up instead, which isn’t his stregth anymore. Are the thunder taking this away or has Tim forgotten or lost confidence in his jumper?

  • http://twitter.com/ManuginOBilly Manugin O’Billy

    Danny Green appears to have caught Matt Bonner Disease. The symptoms include major shrinkage of the testicles come crunch time.

  • Jim

    1) I want to see Manu play 30+ minutes2) I don’t want Bonner on the floor
    3) I’ve been asking for Duncan to post up more, but he clearly can’t do it effectively for some reason
    4) Neal should start and guard Thabo. Green is not a good matchup
    5) We need to force Westbrook, let him try beat you 1-1, don’t allow him to pass
    6) Play like a man Tony. Are you going to play closer once in your life? Manu always has to bail him out

  • DavidL

    We HAVE to improve our penetration.  Parker has been driving off the pick and roll but then getting stopped before he even gets into the paint.  There were many possessions in which Westbrook was playing extremely tight D on Parker.  He should drive on him and draw the easy foul.

  • Fkj74

    Because of the win streak we can lulled into false sense of things. Home court advantage is big! Spurs win game 5…because Green and Bonner will hit their shots, Perkins and Ibka will not. Go Spurs

  • http://twitter.com/ManuginOBilly Manugin O’Billy

    Green and Bonner will choke in Game Five, just like they disappeared in Games One through Four. Both of them suffer from testicular inadequacy.

  • http://www.nba.com/spurs/?tmd=1 TheRealDirtyP1

    Be thankful that Brooks didn’t adjust? so are OKC fans being thankful that Blair wasn’t played at all before the game was out of hand in game 3? Hell no. Adjustments are made in a long series. Idk how you could have had a bad feeling about the series after game 2. Both teams did what they’re supposed to, they won at home. Home teams in the playoffs are getting the calls and just overall winning.

  • Ace Smith

    I dont think the Spurs are going to lose 3 games for the first time this season and i wrote all about why that is and how to bet it on my site so come down and enjoy!  nbawagers!! http://nbawagers.com/2012/06/durantula-preys-upon-spurs-to-tie-series-at-2-apiece/

  • TD BestEVER

    actually Grren doesn’t – He has played well in the playoffs and this is really his 1st year in the playoffs and his 1st year actually playign well in the regular season……. you have to give all playoff rookies a break.  It’s hard the 1st time for most people