The Thunder trail 1-0 to the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. It is the first time all year OKC has trailed in a playoff series, and they are ready to bounce back. Game 2 is going in favor of the Thunder and here are the reasons why.
In Game 1 the Thunder gave up a staggering 50 points in the paint to San Antonio, twice as many as they had themselves. Westbrook and Fisher need to slow Tony Parker down, keep him from penetrating and finding easy lay ups. If OKC can force the Spurs into a shooting match, mid range jumpers and perimeter shots, they will outscore them in bunches. They need to make Danny Green and Matt Bonner beat them off the bench as opposed to Duncan, Parker and Ginobli.
Interesting stat: Bonner and Green were a combined 0 for 7 from beyond the arc, and neither player made a shot from the field.
Manu did not play any minutes against the Thunder during their regular season match ups. When he entered the game from the bench, OKC almost seemed overwhelmed by him. A large part of his success was OKC's poorly organized pick and roll defense. Duncan would come high to set a screen, and Sefolosha and Perkins would get sucked in where Ginobili could split them and get an easy lay up.
Even more staggering than Ginobili's 26 off the bench, but his field goal percentage in the fourth quarter. He shot 100%, 3 for 3 from the field and 5 for 5 from the line for 11 points. The fourth quarter is when the wheels started to come unhinged for the Thunder, and Ginobili was a big reason why. In order to win Game 2, they have to contain the Spurs sixth man.
The Spurs love to control the tempo of the game, run their half court offense, and move the ball around until they get a quality look. The Thunder can't play into the Spurs' hands. Instead they need to bring high-energy, high-tempo basketball by pushing the ball up the court and running quick transitions. Russell Westbrook can dart past anyone on San Antonio. They need to force them into help defense and kick it to the open man. Lots of off ball movement will help wear Stephen Jackson down, and Harden thrives working off of screens. If the Thunder exploit their young legs, they will not only have the advantage in the fourth quarter, but late in the series as well.
The fourth quarter is where legends are made. For some reason, Durant disappeared late in Game 1. He only managed to square up two shots from the field the entire last quarter. If the Thunder are going to win, Kevin Durant has to make his presence known late in the game like he did all series against the Lakers.