The Oklahoma City Thunder will get another chance to steal a game in San Antonio tonight at 9:00 p.m. EST on TNT.
The Thunder blew a golden opportunity in Game 1 as they could not hold on to a nine-point lead after three quarters.
The Spurs came roaring back finally looking like the offensive juggernaught they have been all season in that final quarter scoring 39 points including 16 inside the paint.
The Thunder lost any rhythm they had in that final period as Russell Westbrook and James Harden completely deferred to Kevin Durant on offense and the Thunder’s small unit was ineffective on both ends of the floor.
Westbrook and Harden know they have to step up tonight for the Thunder to have a chance and they all know that ball movement must improve against a team like the Spurs to win.
Brooks also has said he regretted not bringing Serge Ibaka back into the game in the fourth quarter to help protect the paint that San Antonio so easily penetrated to.
The Thunder showed in the first three quarters how to beat the Spurs. They played great defense and contested the spot-up outside looks San Antonio got. The Spurs were 9-for-23 on spot-up shots in the game and 5-for-14 on spot-up threes.
The Thunder then got out on the break and did some damage and were 8-of-14 on transition shots in the game. They were unable to score at all on the fast break in the fourth quarter and that had mostly to do with an inability to get stops or force turnovers.
The Thunder had nine offensive rebounds in the first half and none in the second. They became more isolation-heavy in the second half and combine that with going small and it won’t result in many second-chance opportunities for any team.
The Thunder need to continue to commit on defense and they should but the offense needs to be better too starting with Westbrook and Harden.
Westbrook became an erratic attacker in Game 1 as his jump shot was not always falling. He needs to be more under control in Game 2 and after a game of seeing how the Spurs guarded him, he should do a better job of this tonight.
Harden was out of it in Game 1 as he became frustrated that his shots were not falling. He did not attempt a free throw for this first time all season in that game and committed two uncharacteristic charges as well.
If Harden can get his offense going like usual it will help rejuvenate him on defense too which is very important since he will again find himself matched up with Manu Ginobili who had a big Game 1.
Tonight feels like a must-win for the Thunder. You need to win once on the road to win the series and going down 0-2 is a tough hole even for the Thunder.
You can always count on the Thunder this season to play hard every night. They will give it their best shot tonight and if that is not enough, winning the series will get tougher but won’t be impossible.