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.
The Spurs DOMINATE the Thunder en route to a 112-77 victory! Parker and Duncan finished with 22 and 14 points pic.twitter.com/Mf8686kXYe— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 22, 2014
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:
This is tied for the worst loss in OKC Franchise history. Regular season or Postseason. (11/28/08 at Cleveland 117-82)— Thunder Obsessed (@ThunderObsessed) May 22, 2014
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:
Tough quote to take from Boris Diaw if you are a Thunder fan: "They gave up on the game pretty early." #Spurs— Tom Orsborn (@tom_orsborn) May 22, 2014
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:
Spurs win Game 2, 112-77-- their largest win in a conference finals game— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 22, 2014
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:
Durant on the Spurs second quarter run: "I messed up the end of the second quarter ... It was my fault. I take responsibility for that."— Royce Young (@royceyoung) May 22, 2014
The Oklahoman's Anthony Slater noted some unbelievable numbers:
Derek Fisher's plus/minus of zero in 15 minutes tonight leads the Thunder. Russell Westbrook a -34, Durant a -26.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) May 22, 2014
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:
Spurs still having their way with Thunder in paint, outscoring them 26-18. San Antonio outscored OKC, 66-32 in paint in Game 1.— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) May 22, 2014
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:
Danny Green has made at least four 3-pointers in 3 straight games Spurs are 16-0 this season when Danny Green makes 4 3-pointers in a game— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 22, 2014
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:
Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant had a rough shooting 1st half for Thunder pic.twitter.com/p6AFT9kyur— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 22, 2014
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:
When OKC beat the Spurs in Game 6 of the 2012 WCF, Kawhi had 5 pts, 2 reb, Green played four minutes, Tiago played 39 seconds.— Matthew R Tynan (@Matthew_Tynan) May 22, 2014
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.
The Spurs should let a random fan play the last minute and I bet they get that fan a good open look.— netw3rk (@netw3rk) May 22, 2014
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:
I mean, basically impossible to imagine the Thunder coming from 2-0 down to beat the Spurs under any scenario— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) May 22, 2014
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.