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.”
Earlier in the game, noted the Thunder’s porous interior defense was making Ibaka look good.
“The Thunder defense is making Serge Ibaka look like Hakeem Olajuwon and Bill Russell all wrapped in one.”
Ibaka’s absence contributed to the ugly blowout.
“Gentlemen,” Miller said to fellow announcers Marv Albert and Steve Kerr, “this is an old-fashioned, take- you- to-the- woodshed beatdown by the San Antonio Spurs.”
It was so lopsided he joked that he should have stayed home and watched the game.
“I could have Skyped my comments from Malibu (Calif.) It would have been the same thing,” Miller said.
However, noting the Thunder had come back from the 2-0 deficit in 2012, he said the series wasn’t over.
“I throw caution to the wind. We’ve seen this movie before.”
•On the Fox Sports Oklahoma postgame show, TV voice Brian Davis noted the Thunder’s poor shot selection. “I would suggest that a lot of the problems started at the offensive end with a significant loss of discipline.” Analyst Nancy Lieberman said, “The Thunder must do it with defense and it starts with the point attack with Tony Parker.”
•Miller was irritated that game officials checked the monitor to see if Perkins’ foul on Tiago Splitter was a flagrant foul. “This is just being physical. That’s just a good hard foul. Play on.”
•Kerr on Westbrook: He’s just fun to watch. You never know what you’re going to get. It’s so spectacular...He’s just a force of nature.”
•After Danny Green hit a 3-pointer to take a 55-44 lead, Kerr noted the Thunder’s “dilemma.” “You’re trying desperately to keep San Antonio out of the paint. If you go to help too much, you’re going to give up the 3s.”
•Kerr noted the “crux” of the series was the Thunder had too many “one-way defenders” who are offensive liabilities.
•At halftime, Barkley lamented the Thunder’s poor shooting as an acid rock group blasted away in the background. “They take some of the worst jump shots, real quick jumpers.”
He ripped Durant and Westbrook for failing to get more contribution out of their teammates. “They have to learn to make the players around them better.”