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Oklahoma City Thunder: Why a lineup change might be in order for Game 3

With the first string struggling so mightily, a change to the starting lineup could be in order. And Thunder coach Scott Brooks at Saturday’s practice spoke as if changes are indeed on the horizon.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: May 24, 2014

“I think we need production out of our group. That’s the main focus,” Brooks said. “It’s unfair to label Nick and Perk and Thabo that they need to score more. As a group, we need to play better for longer stretches against one of the best teams. We’re not asking for guys all of a sudden to be 15-point scorers and block shots. We’re just asking the group to play better, and we have to figure out ways to do that.

“If a change to the starting lineup can help that we will explore that. But we have to make sure we play better as a group first before we start saying lineups need to be changed. I’m not saying that might not happen. But we still have some time to think about that.”

At this point it seems certain Brooks will call on Caron Butler. He was inserted into the first five for Thabo Sefolosha in Game 6 against the Grizzlies, and that change played a small role in helping the Thunder win the final two games to advance to the semifinals.

Whether that’s the best move or simply one that Brooks will resort to because it worked before is another matter. Other options include Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones III, Steven Adams and Derek Fisher. Each has his strengths and weaknesses, but all six can supply more offensive substance to a starting lineup that sorely needs it.

If a change isn’t seen Sunday, it’ll stand as the strongest evidence yet that the Thunder is content looking to Westbrook and Durant to bail out its offense.

The Spurs so far simply have sat back and feasted on that strategy, one that has turned this year’s Western Conference Finals into a glorified game of two-on-five.

“We got to do more, just point blank,” Durant insisted, referring to himself and Westbrook. “We have to dig deep and do more for our team. You can always say ‘What if? What if this, what if that.’ We have who we have on this team and we trust the guys we have on the floor. We just have to play better for them. We have to put them in better positions as the attackers on this team. We know that. We own up to that. We know we were terrible at it the first two games. We can just grow from it. That’s the best part of playing in a series is that you can learn from your mistakes.”

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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