After the Thunder found out that they would be without Serge Ibaka for the remainder of the playoffs there was immediate concern over the effect that his absence would have over the team. It was clear at halftime after the Spurs had scored an astounding 40 points in the paint in the first half that his absence would be a big factor in game 1. In the regular season they gave up 39.4 points in the paint per game. By the end of the game they had given up 66 interior points in their 122-105 loss.
From an individual perspective the loss of Ibaka made things much easier for Tim Duncan as he scored 21 points in the first half en route to 27 points and 7 rebounds. He was a big part of the Spurs huge 67 point first half. Tony Parker showed no ill effects from his injury sustained in Game 5 of the semi-finals with 14 points and 12 assists in 36 minutes. Danny Green had his best game in the playoffs with 16 points including four three pointers and his team was an astounding +30 when he is on the court. Kawhi Leonard finished with 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals in a strong all around game. Manu Ginobili had 18 points off the bench while going 3-4 from downtown. In all 13 players appeared in the game for San Antonio.
As expected Nick Collison got the start in place of Ibaka and was virtually invisible as was backup big man Steven Adams. If the Thunder are going to make a run in this series they will need improved contributions from both of these players. Kevin Durant had 28 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists on 10-19 from the field. Russell Westbrook had 25 points and 7 assists while playing a strong all around game. The other three starters (Collison, Thabo Sefolosha, and Kendrick Perkins) combined for 5 points (all from Perkins). Derek Fisher was big of the bench with 16 points including 4 three pointers and Reggie Jackson had 13 points. For much of the second and third quarter they had Jackson, Fisher, and Westbrook in the lineup together with Durant and Caron Butler. Which is basically 3 point guards, a shooting guard, and a small forward. The lineup worked well on offense but could do nothing to protect the paint on defense.
The Spurs dominated in the first half yet the Thunder still went on a second half run and had the lead with about 5:00 remaining in the third. They were outscored 45-27 for he remainder of the game.
Three keys for game 2
1) OKC must find a big man capable of contributing, at least on the defensive end.
2) The Thunder must get something out of Sefolosha, he is a versatile player who is capable of contributing much more.
3) The Spurs need to continue to keep the focus on their defense and not get caught into a running game when OKC plays small.
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