TNT game analyst Steve Kerr said the genesis of the Spurs’ 117-89 rout of the Thunder in Game 5 on Thursday night actually came in the fourth quarter of Game 4. The Spurs’ second-half comeback in that game forced Thunder coach Scott Brooks to to play his starters most of the game.
“This was a moral victory (for the Spurs) that definitely played a factor tonight,” Kerr said.
Kerr said the Thunder looked fatigued in the series in which the home team has dominated.
“We’re not seeing a pressure defense. We’re not seeing a sense of purpose.”
Kerr came close to predicting the Thunder would win Game 6 on Saturday night, igniting a friendly argument with analyst Reggie Miller and play-by-play announcer Marv Albert. “There’s a pretty good chance they will be back here in four days for Game 7,” Kerr said.
Kerr noted that “Oklahoma City is a much younger team” and had dominated the Spurs in OKC, winning nine in a row.
Miller joked that Kerr, who is leaving TNT to become coach of the Golden State Warriors, might have worked too long with Albert.
“It’s time to move on,” Kerr said.
•Studio analyst Charles Barkley noted that Brooks needed to find a way to get better bench play since Reggie Jackson moved into the starting lineup. He said he needed to change his rotation to find a way to get Jackson, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook more playing time with the second unit.
At halftime Barkley noted that when the Thunder went to its bench, “that’s when they lost their momentum.”
Barkley also said he was surprised by the continued home-court blowouts. “The level of consistency in the way the guys are playing at home and on the road is startling.”
•Studio analyst Shaquille O’Neal noted that Serge Ibaka was less effective in Game 5. “The jumper was off and he didn’t get that many blocks.”
O’Neal said “the Spurs are super effective when they have more than three passes.”
•Fox Sports Oklahoma analyst Nancy Lieberman noted the Spurs ball movement was much better: “They were tougher to the basket, collapsing the defense… Their spacing was better than it’s been the last two games.”
She noted the Spurs’ plus-13 advantage on the boards “takes away fast-break opportunities for the Thunder.”
•TNT studio analyst Kenny Smith missed the telecast to be at the high school graduation of his daughter Monique. In the pregame, Barkley picked the Thunder to win and O’Neal took the Spurs.
•At halftime, TNT superimposed a photo of Barkley in a large swimsuit. “One thing in this city, you can always find a big bathing suit,” said Barkley, who has joked about the abundance of overweight women in San Antonio.
•The game announcers talked about the stat that in the playoffs 73 3-point shooters had been fouled, and there had been 14 four-point plays as the league tries to protect shooters on their follow-through. Miller noted if the rule interpretation had been in effect when Kerr played “you might have averaged 18 to 20 points a game.”
Kerr said, “I want to see the NBA fine the shooter when the shooter flops.” He noted the practice “was getting out of hand.”
•Kerr noted that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s decision to start Matt Bonner in place of Tiago Splitter and not play Splitter and Tim Duncan together worked well in opening up the Spurs’ offense. “That just changed the whole strategy of the thing.”
•Brooks during a timeout after Westbrook made a steal immediately after a Spurs’ steal: “Big time! Big time! That was a championship play.”
•Miller on Thunder rookie Steven Adams: “You can make a case for him being a starter on this team. But he is learning from a veteran.”
•Miller after a Westbrook 3-point shot: “He is a flat-out stud. You talk about bringing it at the highest level, and he is doing it every night.”