On the postgame show, TNT’s studio analyst Kenny Smith said Thunder coach Scott Brooks needed to shake up his lineup in Game 2 to try to even the Western Conference Finals. Charles Barkley disagreed and said the Thunder needed to get more scoring from its starters other than Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Smith said the Thunder’s starting lineup for Game 1 was “fools’ gold because (Nick) Collison, (Kendrick) Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha are really kind of bench players.”
He said reserves Reggie Jackson and Caron Butler needed to play “starter’s minutes.”
Barkley said the Thunder needed to stay big but get more scoring output from Collison and Sefolosha. “Collison is not a scorer, Sefolosha is not a scorer, but they are better than zero,” he said referring to their Game 1 total.
He also thought rookie center Steven Adams needed to play more.
Studio analyst Shaquille O’Neal said he didn’t think it really mattered who the Thunder played against Spurs star Tim Duncan because no one could handle him since Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka is sidelined. “Adams is more athletic, but he’s barbecued chicken against Tim Duncan. Kendrick Perkins is barbecued chicken against Tim Duncan.”
Barkley said he thought the difference in the game was Thunder stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook getting tired in the fourth quarter. “They kind of ran out of gas late in the third quarter. Westbrook was dynamic in the third quarter. The guy coming at full speed was incredible.”
Smith said the Spurs players didn’t have much to be concerned about, noting the Thunder’s defensive woes. “We are getting great shots. They are getting OK shots. If we continue to get great shots, it’s impossible to beat us.”
TNT’s top crew of Marv Albert, Steve Kerr and Reggie Miller called the game with sideline reporter David Aldridge filling in for Craig Sager, who has missed the playoffs while battling leukemia.
Kerr, who is working his final series as a broadcaster, discussed his new job as coach of the Golden State Warriors.
“I’m very exciting. Incredible opportunity,” he said. “I’m going to miss you guys.”
Later after Kerr complained about a ref’s call, Miller said he needed to be careful about what he said now that he’s a coach. “That’s a great call,” Kerr then said.
Miller noted that another new head coach was at the game in Thunder guard Derek Fisher, who is being linked to the New York Knicks’ job. But he said he needed to be a player-coach. “The way he is shooting, he can still do it.”
Kerr said he was surprised that Collison didn’t play in the fourth quarter. “I thought his defense and his hustle in the third quarter was spectacular. I thought he changed the game.”
He also noted the Thunder’s small lineup was a defensive liability.
•On the Fox Sports Oklahoma postgame show, analyst Nancy Lieberman said the Thunder needed to trim its turnover total. “The one thing they can’t do is to have the turnovers to the Spurs, that led to extra possessions because they are so good with their execution.” She was pleased with the Thunder’s bench play that “helped take the lead in the third.”
•Albert noted the last time the Thunder franchise won a Game 1 on the road was in April 1992 as the Seattle SuperSonics. “It’s time to eliminate that,” Kerr said. “They’re not the Sonics. They’re the Thunder.”
•TNT noted the Spurs trio of Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili tied the Lakers’ trio of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Cooper and Magic Johnson for most playoff victories for a threesome (110).
•After Parker faked out Sefolosha with a crossover move in the first quarter, Miller said: “Tony Parker, showing some of his old self with the crossover here. I’m sorry Sefolosha. That may end up on ‘SportsCenter,’ my friend.”
•Regarding speculation that the Thunder might “amnesty” Perkins in the last year of his contract, Kerr said he still was needed in certain matchups, such against Duncan. “He’s still one of the best low-post defenders in the league.”
•In the pregame show, TNT had fun with Barkley. Noting that O’Neal had four championship rings and Kenny Smith two rings, a graphic noted Barkley “had lots of onion rings.” Promoting his website, Barkley was shown dressed as a woman from his “Saturday Night Live” appearance.
•Host Ernie Johnson noted he missed Sager, who is showing improvement, and his wild sport coats. Aldridge apologized for wearing a plain blue blazer. “I did the best I could.”
•Smith and O’Neal picked the Spurs to win the series; Barkley declined to make a prediction.