The Thunder are going into tonight's Game 2 in San Antonio down one game to none. The Spurs went into the fourth quarter of Game 1 down by nine points. They ended up winning the game, scorching Oklahoma City for 39 points in the fourth quarter.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks knows his team's late-game efforts were not going to cut it against any team, let alone the Spurs. According to Darnell Mayberry, Brooks said, “We take a lot of pride in our defense in the fourth quarter and we gave up 39 points…Over 30 points in the fourth quarter is not good enough to win."
While Oklahoma City made Tim Duncan and Tony Parker look pretty harmless, they shouldn't sleep on either of these guys. Parker averaged over 23 PPG against the Thunder in three regular season games, so expect him to assert himself a bit more in Game 2.
Aside from the late-game collapse, the Thunder did a lot of things very well in Game 1. The game fell apart when the Thunder's offense went stale. Like young teams are prone to do, especially in playoff games, they moved away from their strengths when they felt the game slipping away.
The Spurs got two layups to start the fourth quarter of Game 1 and took all the wind out of OKC's sails. The veteran Spurs chipped away and eventually won the game. OKC looked lost and desperate to get themselves back into the game by taking contested jump shots.
If the Thunder wants to steal Game 2 in San Antonio, they need to stick with their offense. They defended the pick and roll well and limited San Antonio's bigs. When a lead starts to build for the Spurs, the Thunder need to buckle down defensively, get some stops and take some quality shots on their end.
OKC's biggest advantage is their youth and athleticism. The more they move off the ball on the offensive end, the quicker San Antonio's defenders will get tired. At the very least, they can make the Spurs rotate more subs in throughout the game. How much that would help is hard to say, given that the Spurs are the deepest team in the NBA.
When you are playing a team as seasoned as San Antonio, you can't let them take you out of your game plan. They know what it takes to bring a team down, and that's exactly what they did to the Thunder in Game 1. They made halftime adjustments and came out firing.
The Thunder will make the necessary changes, play better defensively and force more contested shots to get the win in Game 2.