San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said after his team's 101-98 victory over the Thunder in Game 1 on Sunday night that the Spurs have no intention of going one-on-one defensively against OKC in the Western Conference Finals.
"Any team at this point in time wants to play team defense," Popovich explained. "We can't guard them one-on-one. There's no way, so team defense is even more important than it was during the regular season. The weakside D and doing your job as a team defender, you can only guard them as a team.
"They're long, they're athletic, they're really something else."
Whenever Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden drove the lane, the Spurs immediately swarmed them with multiple defenders.
Durant finished with a game-high 27 points, shooting 8 for 19 from the field, 0 for 4 from 3-point range and 11 for 12 from the free-throw line.
Westbrook shot 7 for 21 from the field and committed four turnovers.
Harden shot 6 for 8 in the second half (4 for 5 from 3-point range), but was just 1 for 9 before intermission, and finished with 19 points.
San Antonio fans certainly haven't forgotten Derek Fisher's heroics with the Los Angeles Lakers against the Spurs in Game 5 of the 2004 playoffs when he got off a game-winning shot in 0.4 seconds.
Fisher was booed heavily every time he entered the game. He also hit his first six shots from the field and finished with 13 points off the bench.
The Thunder outscored the Spurs 17-8 on fastbreak points. San Antonio outscored OKC 50-26 in the paint and 14-7 on second-chance points. … In addition to a game-high 27 points, Durant had 10 rebounds, four assists, three blocked shots and two steals. … In a solid all-around effort, Thunder guard Thabo Sefolsoha had seven points, five rebounds, a game-high four steals, two assists and one blocked shot.
Much is made of San Antonio's age, but the Spurs (27.4 years) aren't that much older than the Thunder (26.4). Take away 37-year-old Derek Fisher and OKC's age would be 25.6.
The Spurs have six player 24 and younger – Kawhi Leonard (20), Cory Joseph (20), DeJuan Blair (23), Patrick Mills (23), Oklahoma State's James Anderson (23) and Danny Green (24)
Obviously veteran players like Tim Duncan (36), Manu Ginobili (34) and Tony Parker (30) know the Spurs' system inside-out, but why do the young contributors seem to know it so well?
"I don't think they have a choice," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "Pop is no-nonsense. He's demanding, but he's fair. If you don't play a certain way, he's not going to play you. There's no scholarships, there's no minutes given out. You earn you minutes with Pop and that's what we do. Their young guys are great shooters, they're great playmakers and they understand the system very well.
"Our players, obviously, they work hard, they earn the minutes, they deserve the minutes. Our young guys have really done a good job of buying in and believing in what we do and what we do as a team."
The Boston Celtics advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat by eliminating Philadelphia on Saturday night.
Asked if he liked the result, former Celtics center Kendrick Perkins said: "Who me? I really don't care. I wish the best for them, but I didn't really care. I wanted them to win. I think Boston would make a better series (in the NBA Finals) than Miami."
Perkins on the difference between defending Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum and Duncan: "Tim is a lot smarter. He's crafty, can shoot from the outside. He can pass. He just got the complete package. You're talking about probably the best power forward to play the game. That's the difference."