Two games in San Antonio. Two routs. One sort of interesting. The other a total blowout. An embarrassing blowout. A question-everything-you-do blowout. Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals was a 112-77 Spurs’ rout. Here’s what I saw and heard:
ATTACKING THE BASKET
Russell Westbrook got to the basket with some regularity. Kevin Durant did not.
Westbrook two 24 shots and didn’t go to the foul line. Westbrook went 1-of-5 from 3-point range, 2-of-9 on mid-range jumpers (although one was a 10-foot fallaway that was a hideous shot) and 4-of-10 on shots taken from right at the basket.
That’s not a terrible ratio in terms of shot selection. Ten shots on layups or drives is excellent. That’s what the Thunder needs from Westbrook. Alas, the Spurs did a great job contesting them. The Thunder needs Westbrook to make seven or eight of those.
Five 3-pointers might be too many, but since Westbrook’s epiphany the last two games of the Memphis series, when he took just two in each game, Westbrook’s 3-point attempts have numbered: 5, 4, 3, 4, 6, 4, 4, 5. That’s 35 3-point shots; Westbrook has made 11 of them. But he’s made just two of the last 16. Maybe it’s time for another epiphany.
The problem with Westbrook on Wednesday night was his mid-range game. Making just two of nine is a killer for OKC.
Meanwhile, Durant made just six of 16 shots. He was 0-of-4 on 3-pointers, 5-of-9 on mid-range shots and 1-of-3 on shots right at the basket. Durant was fouled twice while shooting; once on a 10-footer, once on a drive to the hoop. So that’s four close-in shots. Not nearly enough. Durant needs twice that many. One came on an alley-oop dunk out of a timeout. Virtually nothing in transition.
Durant is having to work too hard for his shots, even during the long stretch when Kawhi Leonard was benched with foul trouble. Working hard is exactly what Gregg Popovich wants Durant doing.
“They had a rough night, that’s the truth,” said Spur star Manu Ginobili. “They shot very poorly, and I don’t think Durant took many bad shots. He just missed shots that he usually doesn’t miss.”
Here’s what the loss of Serge Ibaka means. Through two games, the Spurs have made 60 of 90 shots in the paint. The Thunder has made 37 of 67. But Ibaka’s void reverberates in other ways.
For example, here’s a lineup Scotty Brooks used in the second quarter: Kendrick Perkins, Derek Fisher, Reggie Jackson, Perry Jones and Caron Butler. Perk and the B Team. That’s something we’ve never seen before. The experiment didn’t last long – 34 seconds. Perkins picked up two fouls and went to the bench, replaced by Steven Adams. During those 34 seconds, Perk and the B Team went 2-2 against the Spurs. The basket, ironically, came on a Gran Torino hook shot.
Here’s another lineup. Adams and Perkins together. Brooks can’t have used his two centers together more than five minutes all season. But he was forced to in Game 1, when Nick Collison picked up his second foul just 4:36 into the game. Adams and Perk joined Durant, Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha. Adams and Perk played together 3:04, during which the Spurs outscored OKC 9-6. Strange lineup. Zero pick’n pop game. There’s scant little of it with Collison. There’s none with Perkins and Adams. But you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.
AVERT YOUR EYES
The following section is for mature audiences only. These plus/minus numbers are not for the faint of heart.
Westbrook has played 55:20 in this series. He’s minus-47 – the Thunder has been outscored by 47 points with Westbrook on the court.
Durant has played 69:19 in this series. He’s minus-43.
Collison has played 27:30 in this series. He’s minus-22.
Perkins has played 38:13 in this series. He’s minus-30.
Thabo has played 25:51 in this series. He’s minus-16.
Reggie Jackson has played 49:07 in this series, not counting the ridiculous fourth quarter of Game 2. In those 49 minutes, Jackson is -19.
Butler has played 44:28 in this series. He’s -17.
Adams has played 38:18 in this series, not counting that fourth quarter of Game 2. In those 38-plus minutes, Adams is minus-16.
Fisher has played 35:30 in this series, not counting that fourth quarter of Game 2. In those 351/2 minutes, Fisher is minus-17. Which, by the way, leads us to the most remarkable stat of the season. Through three quarters of Game 2, Fisher had played 9:50 in a game the Spurs led 91-62, and Fish was plus-one.
After not playing at all in Game 1, Perry Jones in Game 2 played the entire second quarter and the entire fourth quarter. The fourth quarter doesn’t count. In the second quarter, Jones minus-16.
What can we learn from this? Jackson and Butler have been the most effective Boomers. That seems intuitive, doesn’t it? Jackson is going to have to play more, not that Brooks has idled him much. And if Thabo isn’t going to guard any better than he has, might as well have Butler on the court.
GREEN, GREEN, IT’S GREEN THEY SAY
Danny Green in the first two games of the NBA Finals last June: 4-of-9 3-point shooting in Game 1, 6-of-6 3-point shooting in Game 2.
Danny Green in the first two games of this Western Conference Finals: 4-of-5 3-point shooting in Game 1, 7-of-10 3-point shooting in Game 2.
Here’s the bad news for the Thunder. Green didn’t cool off in Game 3 against Miami – 9-of-15. Then he went 3-of-8 in Game 4 and 8-of-15 in Game 5. So through five games, Green made 30 of 53 3-point shots.
Here’s the good news for the Thunder. Green cooled off in the Game 6 and Game 7 defeats against the Heat – 1-of-7, 1-of-12.
But just exactly how does the Thunder get to a Game 6?
Green has played 55:29 in this series. His plus/minus is plus-54.
“I think that sometimes defenses forget about him and leave him open,” said Ginobili on Wednesday night. “Tonight that is exactly what they did, and they had to pay for it. He was a threat the entire game, and it showed.”
Think how badly the Thunder would be getting drilled if its bench wasn’t holding its own.
Manu Ginobili was great in Game 1 for the Spurs but not real factor in Game 2. Marco Belinelli and Patty Mills combined to make just three of 14 shots in Game 2. Meanwhile, Jackson has been mostly good for the Thunder offensively, Butler has been OK, Adams has been the series’ lone bright spot and Fisher shot the lights out in Game 1.
But those starters. Ouch.
POINT GUARD DUEL
The Thunder has to win the point guard duel to beat the Spurs. But Westbrook is not getting the best of Tony Parker. Not by a longshot. Through two games:
Parker: 36 points, 17 assists, five turnovers, 16-of-29 shooting.
Westbrook: 40 points, 12 assists, seven turnovers, 16-of-45 shooting.