Game five of the Western Conference Finals did not go as planned for the Oklahoma City Thunder. After two straight terrific performances on their home floor the Thunder returned to San Antonio and reverted back to the performance put forth in games one and two, when Serge Ibaka was out with a calf injury.
On Thursday night the Spurs beat the Thunder 117-89 and had control of the game from the second quarter on.
From the beginning of the game it was clear that the Spurs wanted to pick up the pace as well as space the floor better on offense. Greg Popovich elected to move Matt Bonner in to the starting lineup in place of Tiago Splitter. Although Bonner did not have a huge effect on the game, this move set the tone offensively for the Spurs and it lasted all night.
The Spurs did a great job of moving the ball all night long as many players made major contributions offensively. Tim Duncan led the way with 22 points and Manu Ginobili was not far behind with 19. After them, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, and Boris Diaw were all between 12 and 14 points. This spread in scoring made it nearly impossible for the Thunder to key in on one or two players defensively.
As for the Thunder, the problem lied mainly on the defensive end. Their inability to stay in front of the Spurs ball- handlers forced the help defenders to rotate over and leave their man open. The Spurs improved execution from game 4 allowed them to easily swing the ball to the open man and knock down long jumpers.
OKC was also unable to get anything going offensively outside of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. The duo combined for 46 points but only one other player, Reggie Jackson, scored in double figures and all of his points came early in the game.
Heading in to game 6 the Thunder has many things they need to figure out. Scott Brooks will need to find a way to matchup to the Spurs new starting lineup. Even if they can win on their home floor on Saturday, they will also need to find a way to bring their success back to San Antonio for game 7.
Be sure to check out thunderousintentions.com for more on Thursday’s game as well as previews of game 6.