It's a trend the Thunder needs to see Jackson change. What he's best at — breaking down the defense, knifing his way into the painted area and either finishing plays or creating for others — he hasn't been doing in this series.
After attempting 36 percent of his shots from within five feet in the regular season, Jackson is down to 26 percent of his attempts coming from that same distance in the playoffs.
“He's a great finisher around the rim,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “It'd be nice for him to get some more paint opportunities and get to the free throw line because we can use that. We can use those extra possessions at the (foul) line.”
Because guard Kevin Martin continues to be inconsistent in this postseason, and forward Serge Ibaka has struggled with his shot, Jackson has to do more. When he doesn't, it puts even more pressure on Durant to be the primary ball-handler, scorer and facilitator for 40-plus minutes.
“I'm going to try to just get in the paint and make plays,” Jackson said. “That's kind of my role on this team with the abilities I have. So I just got to stay aggressive and pedal to the metal and just try to make plays.”
Memphis, however, has a much better defense than Houston did, and that might partially explain Jackson's drop off. Rather than being defended by Patrick Beverly and Aaron Brooks, Jackson is now being covered by Mike Conley and Tony Allen.
“He just has to play within what his capabilities are,” Scott Brooks said. If there's openings he has to attack. If he has that in transition, great. If he has it in the halfcourt, great. But I think he's better when he does attack.”