Prior to Game 1 against the San Antonio Spurs, Thunder coach Scott Brooks announced that Nick Collison would start in Serge Ibaka's place at power forward.
Scott Brooks discussing his decision to start Nick Collison in place of Serge Ibaka - pic.twitter.com/xaK1529hrX— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) May 20, 2014
What can we expect from the Thunder’s interior defense without Ibaka? Berry Tramel wrote today that Ibaka’s presence inside is irreplaceable.
When the Thunder and Spurs tip of tonight in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, Ibaka’s offense will be missed, but it’s his penchant for, as Kevin Durant said “cleaning up all our mistakes” that will be most missed.
From Tramel’s blog: “The Thunder’s defense comes and goes, in terms of staying in front of offensive players. But always on the job is Ibaka, serving as a toll gate who doesn’t easily let opponents to the basket.”
You can read the rest of Tramel's blog here. Now, for more stats and stories leading into Game 1.
*Per ESPN Stats and Information: The Thunder has not won Game 1 on the road in a playoff series since 1992 (clearly when OKC was known as the Seattle SuperSonics).
*The Thunder played well against the Spurs this season (4-0) even when Kevin Durant wasn't at his statistical best. Three of Kevin Durant’s eight lowest game scores of the season (14.7, 12.2 and 11.7) came against the Spurs. Not to be confused with points per game, game score was created to give a rough measure of a player’s productivity for a single game (check out the formula here, per basketball-reference.com).
*The Spurs are scoring 105.5 points per game in the playoffs, the most of any team remaining. That's impressive considering no player is scoring in the 20's for San Antonio.
Some pregame links:
*On Monday, Derek Fisher said that he's not worried about his future until after the playoffs are done. More rumors surfaced Monday morning that the Knicks were holding out to speak with Fisher about their coaching vacancy following the Thunder's postseason run.
*Mayberry writes on Russell Westbrook vs. Tony Parker, a critical matchup in the Western Conference Finals. He also breaks down the Thunder vs. Spurs, matchup by matchup.
*The Spurs slayer -- Reggie Jackson -- will be critical to the Thunder's success says Anthony Slater.
*One of the Thunder's biggest fans also happens to be a Spurs fan. Jenni Carlson tells his story.