The strategy ultimately was enough to keep the Thunder competitive for 3 1/2 quarters. But scoring became a chore in a bogged-down offense (according to nba.com/stats, the team's points per 100 possessions dropped from 110.2 points in the regular season to 102.5 in the playoffs), and the burden only wore out Durant when he was needed most down the stretch.
So what will be different?
Brooks has returned for 2013-14 again stressing ball movement. The Thunder finished in the bottom third in assists last season and ranked 11th among last year's 16 playoff teams. Without Westbrook's 7.4 assists per game, the Thunder will try to turn to precise ball movement to get players like Thabo Sefolosha, Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison and Kendrick Perkins easy shot opportunities.
Beyond that, Brooks might have no choice early on but to let Reggie Jackson run wild. Jackson in all likelihood will step in as the starting point guard and he'll have to replicate his postseason performance, when he averaged 15.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 36.2 minutes per game following Westbrook's injury.
Much of the talk in the opening days of camp has been about how much more confident Jackson has looked as a leader.
“Reggie has done a great job in the first six practices that we've had in the last (few) days, establishing being a better player even more so than he was last season,” Brooks said.
Brooks might also need to trust his youngsters, something he hasn't truly done since James Harden's second season. Second-year guard Jeremy Lamb is just 21 but he was the prized piece in the Harden package. After only 147 regular season minutes as a rookie, Lamb could now start the season as the Thunder's most valuable bench scorer.
“We have players with high character who understand the situation that we're in,” Brooks said. “We're not feeling sorry for ourselves, and we shouldn't. We have a good team.”