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OKC Thunder: Scott Brooks could learn from NBA Finals

COMMENTARY — Miami coach Erik Spoelstra and San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich haven't been afraid to change their starting lineups in the NBA Finals, unlike Thunder coach Scott Brooks.
by Berry Tramel Published: June 17, 2013

Minutes are underrated. My chief complaint with Brooks' rotations have been sticking too long with a big lineup when the Heat or the Rockets try to turn the game into a track meet.

You saw in Game 4 last week, Popovich stayed with his lineup in response to Miller starting. Then 47 seconds into the game, Pop replaced Tiago Splitter with Gary Neal.

To Brooks' credit, he's coming around.

Against Houston, Kevin McHale ended all pretense of a traditional starting five after Game 1.

Brooks eventually embraced small ball. The early part of the Houston series, Brooks was going deep into the first and third quarters before adjusting. But he went small less than three minutes into Game 4, less than two minutes into the second half of Game 5 and didn't even start Perkins in Game 6's second half.

That's an improvement from the 2012 NBA Finals, when the earliest Brooks went small in a first half was the 5:13 mark of Game 2 and the earliest he went small in a second half was 6:32 of Game 4.

Don't discount the value of a veteran roster in the playoffs. Spoelstra, particularly, has an amazing array of experience from which to draw. Of Spoelstra's 10 primary players, eight have played at least 10 NBA seasons.

So Spoelstra can try some crazy things. Like starting Miller in Game 4 of the NBA Finals after not even playing him for two games in each of the Heat's first three playoff series.

And Ginobili, who sometimes plays with a cane and a crutch, can fall out of bed and make a circus shot.

We should see more lineup and rotation adjustments from Brooks as the Thunder ages.

We'll probably see more from the Heat and the Spurs this very week. Some of it might even keep working.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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