The Oklahoma City Thunder missed Serge Ibaka in a big way during the team's 122-105 loss at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night.
San Antonio dominated the paint and scored at will against a team missing its best defensive player and shot-blocker.
During an interview with Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Kendrick Perkins simply said, "We didn't stop nothing. They got whatever they wanted against us."
They absolutely did.
Without the Thunder's best rim-protector in the lineup, the team must quickly figure out a way to stop this highly experienced and well-rounded Spurs team before it finds itself in a hole that's too deep to climb out of.
Let's look ahead to Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, break down the current odds and predict the game's outcome.
San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Series Record: Spurs lead 1-0
Game 2 Location: AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas
Game Odds: Spurs -6 (Vegas Insider)
Oklahoma City can't be counted out completely, as the team has one of the NBA's most prolific offenses; however, without Ibaka in the lineup, the Thunder should continue to struggle on the defensive end of the court.
The Thunder currently lack a legitimate defensive presence in the paint, and that was clearly on display during Game 1 of the series, according to a telling late-game tweet from ESPN's J.A. Adande:
San Antonio finished the game with a whopping 66 points in the paint.
If you're more of a visual person, this tweet from NBA on ESPN really sums it up:
Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks was blunt after the game, according to the Associated Press and via ESPN.com: "We're a no-excuse team. Serge is out. He's not coming back. We have to play better. We have to play better. If we expect to beat one of the best teams in basketball, and a very good offensive team, we have to play and we're not going to make an excuse."
So, without Ibaka returning any time soon, is there any way the Thunder can prevent another onslaught?
Thunder point guard Reggie Jackson spoke with Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, and his comment is noteworthy: "Missing Serge is pretty tough. ... [You can get] a little lazy having somebody that is an eraser back there like that, altering so many shots. ... Your body tells you a few things – 'just send them Serge's way.' We have to get out of that mindset."
This team needs to become defensive-oriented very quickly. They simply cannot solely attempt to outscore the Spurs—it won't happen.
All is not lost for the Thunder at this point. This is a very familiar position for Oklahoma City, and the team has been able to overcome this deficit in the past, according to a tweet from SportsCenter:
Expect a better defensive effort from the Thunder in Game 2; however, this will still be a major adjustment for the team—especially on the road.
Oklahoma City may climb back into this series, but it won't happen quite yet.
Spurs 112, Thunder 104
Game odds current as of 9:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday, May 20.
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