But even with that, everyone knows that Paul is the catalyst for the Clippers. Slowing them starts with keeping a thumb on the crafty point guard.
There was no thumb or finger of any kind on him Monday night.
“He knew we needed a good start,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said, “and he got one for us.”
Paul’s first three tied the game at 16, and the Thunder never led again. Never showed many more signs of life either.
The offense wasn’t awful. When you score 105 points and shoot 45.9 percent, you’re doing something right. But the defense? The Clippers shot 54.9 percent, but it felt like 94.9 percent. So many open looks. So many uncontested shots.
“They were feeling comfortable,” Brooks said. They’ve got good players, and we didn’t make them feel us.”
Maybe you and your staff devised a great plan on defense and the players failed miserably to execute it. That’s entirely possible. But still, something needs to change. The plan. The matchups. The message. Something. If not, this is going to be a really short series for your team.
I mean, by the fourth quarter, things were so out of hand that you had raised the white flag and sent in the scrubs, Coach. Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones got the playoff minutes that some fans have been crowing for, but they came under circumstances that no one wanted.
This series is supposed to be a great one. Close games. Great performances. But what we saw Monday night was the opposite of that.
It was a clunker, especially for anyone in Thunder blue.
And Coach, if that doesn’t change and quickly in Game 2, this series might be over before it ever gets back to Oklahoma City.
“We’ve got to make some adjustments,” you admitted after the game.
They could be adjustments in attitude or scheme or focus or all of the above. But whatever needs to be done, it starts with you, Coach.