TNT is attempting to hype the lopsided Western Conference Finals by noting that the Thunder came back from a 2-0 deficit to the Spurs two years ago in reaching the NBA Finals.
However, studio analysts Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal noted the Thunder must make changes in the starting lineup to make a run at the Spurs when the series resumes Sunday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Smith said Thunder coach Scott Brooks needed to some insert youth, such as Jeremy Lamb, Reggie Jackson and Steven Adams, into the starting lineup in place of veterans Kendrick Perkins, Thabo Sefolosha and Nick Collison.
“Size doesn’t bother San Antonio,” he said. “Size and athleticism does in all positions ...If you don’t put athleticism in the game, they will dissect you and score easily.”
Barkley said Brooks needed to start Jackson at point guard and move Russell Westbrook to the No. 2 guard. “He’s just got an aggressive, scoring personality,” Barkley said of Westbrook.
He said Lamb and Adams also need to play more.
O’Neal noted the Thunder’s impatient offense, often shooting after one pass, in contrast with the Spurs. “If you’re the Spurs, they make four or five passes, then they make backdoor plays.”
BARKLEY BASHES SPURS FANS
In the postgame, Barkley said Spurs’ fans stunk and offered to fight them. Many of them were responding to his criticism of San Antonio women as being overweight and referring to the canal as a creek.
“I’ll beat their a— down,” Barkley said. “Talk is not going to hurt me, but if they get too close, I’m going to beat them like a drum.”
However, he said had been well-received by many fans.
“Most of the people in San Antonio have been great to me and they can take a joke,” he said.
MILLER ON TARGET
A former sharp-shooting guard with the Indiana Pacers, game analyst Reggie Miller was right on target with his comments about how valuable injured Serge Ibaka is to the Thunder during the Spurs’ 112-77 rout.
“In the offseason, Serge Ibaka better go to (general manager) Sam Presti and ask for a raise,” Miller said. “Big time, big time.”