Speaking before the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday night, commissioner Adam Silver was peppered with some Donald Sterling questions.
But in maintaining his stern approach toward the disgraced Clippers owner, Silver also paid Thunder star Kevin Durant a supreme compliment.
“Kevin Durant, as our Most Valuable Player, embodies what this league is all about,” Silver said. “Mr. Sterling doesn’t."
One of the few areas where the Thunder had the advantage over the Spurs in Game 1 was the free-throw line.
Oklahoma City got to the line more, shooting 23 free throws to San Antonio’s 17. The Thunder also shot a better percentage, 82.6 percent to the Spurs’ 76.5.
“We’ve got to attack more,” Durant said. “Offensively, we’ve got to continue to trust with the pass, move our bodies and be aggressive.”
The Spurs are all about precision and execution on offense.
And in Game 1 against the Thunder, all of that worked to perfection. The Spurs scored 122 points, shot 57.5 percent and scored 66 points in the paint.
Could physicality be the answer against the finesse?
“We want to make it hard for them to make all their cuts and their passes,” Thunder forward Nick Collison said. “They’re really good when they’re running through their offense and the ball is flying around and guys are wide open. We want to be able to throw their timing off a little bit.
“Some of that is physicality, but a lot of it is getting back and starting playing at the beginning of the possession instead of being back on our heels and letting them run where they want to run.”
DEFENSE TO OFFENSE
The Thunder offense struggled early in Game 1.
So did the defense.
Did the difficulties on the offensive end bleed over into the defense? The Thunder hit only two of its first 10 shots, while the Spurs nailed nine of their first 14 as they built an 11-point lead midway through the first quarter.
“I think you have to be able to defend regardless of whether you’re making shots or not,” Thunder veteran Derek Fisher said, “but at the same time, it helps if the ball is going in the basket to be able to get your defense back, set, to be confident.”
SPURS REACH MILESTONES
The Game 1 victory gave the Spur trio of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker 110 playoff wins together, matching the NBA record set by the Lakers’ Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper.
“It’s a wonderful accomplishment, as are a lot of things that we've done as a trio,” Duncan said. “But our only focus as far as we're concerned right now is winning this series and moving on.”
Also Monday, Parker had 12 assists, moving past Isiah Thomas into 10th place in NBA history for playoff assists. Parker now has 994 assists. Parker needs just 68 more assists to catch Larry Bird for fourth all-time. The record-holder is Johnson, with 2,346.
“It feels like a dream,” said Parker. “Coming from France and to arrive and accomplish all that. I feel very lucky and very blessed to be a part of a great organization and a great team, and being healthy all those years, and to pass a point guard that I really admired growing up, one of my favorite players, is just a great honor.”
GINOBILI BREAKS OUT
Another Thunder-Spurs Western Conference Finals. Another breakout performance by Ginobili. The 36-year-old Spur had 18 points, all in the second half, in Game 1. Ginobili averaged just 12.3 in the regular season. In the 2012 Thunder-Spurs series, Ginobili averaged 18.5 points a game, despite averaging just 12.9 during the regular season.
Ginobili said he wasn’t pressing in the first half Monday night: “Not at all. I didn’t have the opportunities to score a lot. Missed two layups, but the team was paying great. We scored 67. Of course, I always want to score more and play better. But that wasn’t the issue. The issue was we had to be ready for the run, because they were going to make a run, and we had to stay focused. And if in that second half I get to make the shots, great.”
PARKER FEELS GOOD
Parker has been battling a sore hamstring, but it didn’t seem to bother him in Game 1.
“I was concerned,” Parker said. “I didn't know how I was going to feel until we started the game.”
Parker said he realized early in the game it would feel fine. The hamstring tightened up some in the fourth quarter, he said, but by then the Spurs had the game in hand.