If the absence of Serge Ibaka wasn’t apparent in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals Series, it certainly was in Game 2 as the Oklahoma City Thunder suffered a huge loss at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs, 112-77. The San Antonio Spurs didn’t miss a beat as the comprehensively beat the Thunder in every aspect of the game on their way to the massive victory.
For the Thunder, there were very few positives to take out of the game. They tried a number of different lineups but without Serge Ibaka’s defense, the Spurs were once again able to score almost at will, with the majority of buckets coming in the paint. The Thunder had no answer for the big frontline of the Spurs, but also couldn’t contain the penetration from Tony Parker and the other guards, and they couldn’t defend the three point line either.
It was a very tough night.
Russell Westbrook had a very average night by his standards, delivering a 15 point performance on just 7-24 shooting from the field. Kevin Durant tried mightily, but played just 29 minutes for his 15 points on a marginally better 6-16 from the floor. Without Ibaka, the Thunder were going to need a massive game from this dynamic duo every night in order to win the series, and they couldn’t deliver on this occasion.
One positive for the Thunder, was the bench production. As Scott Brooks tinkered with the lineups to try and match it with the powerhouse Spurs outfit, the bench saw some very good minutes. Rookie Steven Adams continues to develop and impress – to the point where he may be a starter sooner rather than later. His energy and hustle kept the Thunder close early and he finished with 9 points, 8 rebounds and a block. Jeremy Lamb who has hardly been used in the second half of the season, also saw some action and made an impact with 13 points (6-8 FG) and a couple of steals.
Caron Butler and Reggie Jackson also gave the Thunder some valuable minutes and Nick Collison worked admirably.
Obviously, the absence of Serge Ibaka is glaring. The Thunder look out of sync and really don’t have the release valve of a true third option on the offensive end. It means they are unable to spread the floor which plays right into the hands of the Spurs. On the defensive side of the ball, OKC miss Ibaka even more. They are getting caught on the pick and roll, and the Spurs are quite simply dominating them on the inside. If something doesn’t improve, it might be a very short series.
The Spurs are a very well coached, disciplined and talented team who are going to be very tough to beat. The Thunder now have to regroup, take this series back to Chesapeake Arena and try to find some way to slow San Antonio down – before it’s too late.