In some ways, it was a temporary reversion to the early struggles in the Memphis series. Confounded by the smaller lineup and unique matchups, OKC stagnated and settled. And with Paul playing the temporary role of Tony Allen, Durant was thrown out of kilter, his issues with smaller, quicker defenders resurfacing.
“Yesterday as a staff, we said Durant was beating us with his dribble,” Rivers said. “If you put a guard on him, you could make him more of a post-up player.”
After the game, Rivers and Paul downplayed the significance of the switch in slowing Durant and the Thunder.
“He just missed shots,” Rivers said.
“He still finished with 40 (points),” Paul said.
And Durant wasn’t having any of it either. “It doesn’t (challenge me),” he retorted when asked of the matchup. “…Didn’t do nothing. They tried to double-team.”
The effectiveness, though, was plain to see. But despite that, Rivers said Paul on Durant is not a matchup he can continually go to as this series moves forward.
“Situational,” Rivers said. “We do like it because CP’s hands, he’s pretty strong. But I don’t like it because then you’re taking a lot out of CP. That’s not a matchup we are going to live with.”
But on Sunday, it was one that kept them alive.