In the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 101-98 Game 1 loss in San Antonio Sunday night, Defensive Player of the Year runner-up Serge Ibaka did not play in the fourth quarter.
The Spurs outscored the Thunder 39-27 in the final period easily erasing the nine-point deficit after three. The Spurs did this by getting into the paint and scoring 16 points there as the Thunder played small ball.
“I think every decision you make, if it doesn’t work out, you say, ‘Why’d you do that?’ and I’m right (there) with you on that,” Scott Brooks said on Monday. “I wish I would have played Serge last night.”
The adjustment to play Ibaka instead of Kendrick Perkins or next to Perkins is not only obvious now but was also during the game when the Spurs were making their run.
But Brooks likes going small probably because he likes the idea of Kevin Durant playing the four. The only problem was that while both teams were playing small, the advantage of Durant at the four was nullified while Stephen Jackson remained matched up with him on defense.
“We’ve done it in the past and have had a lot of success, so you can’t really look back and beat yourself up too much … but I will,” Brooks said. “It was nothing against what Serge did. I thought we would be able to close out the game. Hindsight, looking back now, I wish obviously I wouldn’t have done that.”
This is good news for the Thunder that Brooks is on board with not trying to match the Spurs’ lineup and instead have them try and match up with them.
The Thunder played good enough to beat the Spurs for three quarters in Game 1 and it wasn’t enough. They will need a full game tonight to win as the Spurs also did not play their best overall game in Game 1.