So it looks like Scott Brooks has done the unthinkable, the implausible, the impossible: for the last two games he has outcoached the uncoachable Gregg Popovich. And it’s all come down to one move, one switch in the starting lineup, the insertion of sixth man Reggie Jackson into the starting 2-guard spot in place of stagnant Thabo Sefolosha.
The fan-named “Spur Killer” has attained a long deserved spot in the starting five this postseason, and it could not have come at a better time. Down 2-0 to the team with the best record in the league, Scott Brooks went a little crazy: he switched things up. Since Jackson was put into the starting unit, the Thunder as a team have shot 8% higher on field goal attempts, have committed fewer turnovers per possession, and are a +19 in total points scored against San Antonio. They have upped their points per game by 3.5, and the option of a third scorer puts less pressure on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to shoulder the load on offense. Not only does Jackson’s presence on offense open up opportunities to score, it also takes pressure off the defensive unit and allows them to function at their usual rate, disrupting passing lanes and clogging the paint and playing their signature style of reckless defense without having to have worry about offense, a mindset that the team lacked in Games 1 and 2.
Can the success of the Thunder be placed solely on the shoulders of Mr. November? Of course not. The return of forward Serge Ibaka has to be given its dues. But Jackson has stepped up to the plate when his coach has called his name and his team has needed him the most and his performance his certainly reminiscent of a certain bearded man’s 2 years ago in the same situation, down 2-o against the same formidable opponent
As the Thunder look to lock down the Spurs in Game 5 on Thursday, one has to look ahead and wonder if Jackson can sustain the same type of success in a series against Miami. While he most likely will be relegated back to his role as leader of the bench, it’s impossible to think he won’t play at least 30 minutes per game. If the Thunder have any chance of winning their first NBA title, their hopes lie in the form of the one and only Sir Reginald Jackson the First.