Ninety-six minutes in, and the Oklahoma City Thunder have yet to find a viable answer in the wake of Serge Ibaka's injury.
Actually, they haven't come close.
The San Antonio Spurs made Game 1 look like a nail-biter on Wednesday night, thoroughly embarrassing the Thunder in a 112-77 thrashing to take a commanding 2-0 series lead.
Prior to the game, Scott Brooks wouldn't let his team make excuses, per The Associated Press, 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.
Well, maybe it's time to start making excuses to save some face.
After all, Thunder Obsessed notes that this was an especially bad loss:
Brooks added more after the game, per ProjectSpurs.com's Paul Garcia:
Boris Diaw wasn't impressed by the Thunder's effort either, according to San Antonio Express-News' Tom Orsborn:
Despite each sitting out the final quarter, Tony Parker scored 22 points and Tim Duncan (14 points, 12 rebounds) recorded a double-double. Danny Green added seven threes on his way to 21 points, as the Spurs shot 50.0 percent from the field and once again did whatever they wanted on the offensive end en route to the record-setting win:
Things were equally one-sided on the other end.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for just 30 points on 13-of-40 shooting, while the rest of the starting lineup added four points. OKC shot 10.0 percent from beyond the arc, made five free-throws and had just 13 fast-break points in the loss.
Durant commented on his role in the Spurs' big run, per ESPN.com's Royce Young:
The Oklahoman's Anthony Slater noted some unbelievable numbers:
In what seems like a millennium ago, the first 18 minutes were about as narrow as you can get. The Thunder led by two after the first quarter, and neither team had a lead that extended past six points.
A 25-8 run from San Antonio to close out the first half quickly put an end to the back-and-forth opening, though, and the Spurs took a 58-44 lead into intermission.
Much like Game 1, the Spurs continued to control the interior. San Antonio had eight offensive rebounds (four from Tim Duncan) to just 17 defensive for Oklahoma City, and Numbers Never Lie noted the scoring discrepancy in the paint:
Still, it was a barrage of three balls that ultimately extended their lead. Green hit two in the final 2:17 of the quarter, giving him four in the first half alone.
As ESPN Stats & Info pointed out, that was good news for the Spurs:
It wasn't just defensive problems for the Thunder, however. Durant and Westbrook, who essentially need to be perfect with the way things are going on the other end of the court, were the opposite of that. ESPN Stats & Info took a look at the inefficient effort:
The beatdown only intensified in the third quarter.
Kawhi Leonard kept forcing turnovers, Green kept burying threes and the Spurs offense kept surgically dissecting the Thunder defense with quick, precise ball movement.
As the lead continued to balloon, ESPN's Matthew Tynan noted an interesting contrast compared to the 2012 version of this matchup:
The Spurs pushed their advantage to 29 after three quarters, and the final period was mostly played by the teams' second units—which also favored Pop's team.
With a return home for Games 3 and 4 on Sunday and Tuesday, it's far too early for the Thunder to start waving the white flag. As Grantland's Bill Barnwell joked, the Thunder were in this same hole before reeling off four straight to get to the finals in 2012:
But their problems are far more immense this time around, and with the Spurs clicking on absolutely every cylinder, it's going to take Herculean efforts from both Durant and Westbrook just to make things interesting.