Oklahoma City power forward Nick Collison said the Thunder had the proper defensive game plan for Game 1 against the Denver Nuggets, but from the opening tip – for some inexplicable reason – his team didn't stick to that plan.
In Game 2, the plan stuck.
This is why Game 1 became a 107-103 survival and Game 2 was a 106-89 domination over the Nuggets inside Oklahoma City Arena.
Game 3 comes Saturday in Denver at 9 p.m., and Collison sees no reason to change any X or O. The plan is simply a matter of doing what's right and doing it early.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks and his players expressed disappointment in their Game 1 defensive execution, but stressed they would only have to make minor adjustments. The biggest adjustment was quicker recognition of what the Nuggets do best.
"We have certain coverages on pick-and-rolls," Collison explained. "We had to get into those sooner so they couldn't break it and go the opposite way. There's a fine line in executing that. It's about seeing that stuff early and that's mainly what we were missing."
The Thunder trio of Serge Ibaka (12), Kendrick Perkins (11) and Collison (eight) combined for the same number of rebounds as the entire Denver team in Game 2. OKC dominated the boards by an astounding 54-31 tally that included a 17-5 advantage at the offensive end.
"You don't go into a game thinking you'll outrebound a team by that margin," Brooks said.
In Game 1, the Thunder outrebounded the Nuggets by a more modest 37-34 count, primarily because both teams missed fewer shots and the Nuggets frequently got the ball close to the basket.
OKC made a point to seal off opponents from the defensive boards and became more aggressive at the opposite end of the floor.
However, there is a danger in hitting the offensive glass hard against Denver. Should you fail in your quest for the rebound, the Nuggets will head in the opposite direction, and in a hurry. Also significant to the Thunder's 2-0 series lead is Denver combining for just 20 fastbreak points so far.
"It's more paying attention to detail," Thunder reserve center Nazr Mohammed said. "You have to pick and choose when you can hit the glass. You have to concentrate on keeping them off the glass. That's something I was really paying attention to going into (Wednesday's) game, trying to keep Birdman (Chris Andersen) off the glass."
Oftentimes, it is just as important who does not get the rebound as who does. The Thunder's quick start and board domination rendered some Denver reserve players useless in the eyes of Nuggets coach George Karl.
In Game 1, nine Denver players played double-digit minutes. In Game 2, seven were in double-digits and every one of those played at least 22 minutes.
OKC's defense made Denver's bench shrink on Wednesday.
"We set the tone early (in Game 2) and it was really good for us," Collison said. "We seem to feed off that. If we get off to s good start, we kind of build and really go on some runs."