Butler downplayed the moves. “Just an adjustment,” he said. “Playoff basketball is about a ton of adjustments. Coach Brooks made an adjustment in the Memphis series, and we made one in this one, as well.”
Maybe so. But Butler hasn’t been around for decade after decade of “Most sales are after Christmas, but Clark’s is just before.” Hasn’t been around for season after season of Durant-Westbrook-Ibaka-Perkins-Sefolosha. These lineup changes were no small decisions.
That’s why Brooks wouldn’t even talk about the process. Didn’t want to divulge how he broke the news to Sefolosha.
Brooks told Jackson at Monday morning shootaround. Stood on the court while Jackson was idly warming up and told him he’d be starting. To stick with Danny Green on the 3-point line and be aggressive offensively. Missions mostly accomplished.
Jackson preferred to deflect talk of success away from himself.
“It's just a testament to Thabo being able to step back for the team,” Jackson said. “I know it was hard on him, especially didn't get a chance to play last night. We still expect him to come in and contribute and do what he does, lock up defensively, really be major for our defense and then knock down the long ball. I'm sure he's still ready to play, but I don't know why it worked so well. We probably just give all the credit to Serge. I'm cool with that.”
Well, yes. Everyone looked better with Ibaka back on the court. But there was no such triumphant return for Memphis Game 6, and everything looked better there, too.
“I think it’s that understanding, being a mature player, being a pro, all you can really control is how you play,” Collison said. “You can’t change what the coach decides to do. And you have to be ready when it’s your time. I think that’s a good thing about our team. We’ve got mature guys. Our goal is to win a championship.”
That’s Brooks’ goal, too. Now more than ever. Which is why a sacred Oklahoma City institution is no more.
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 newsok.com/berrytramel.