PLAYOFF time table | skilled BRACKETS
SAN ANTONIO -- All year lengthy the Thunder have tried to persuade the area, if now not themselves, that the West wasn't a two-group race, that they belonged within the championship conversation along with the warriors and Spurs. Their opportunity to make that statement definitively got here in video game 1 on Saturday nighttime in San Antonio, and as an alternative, the Thunder spoke of something else somewhat obviously.
they're not capable.
That doesn't mean they can't get ready over the next 48 hours. but presently, they're now not able. OKC has been in the title dialog for five years now, for the reason that their Cinderella 2011 run was turned again by using the unstoppable Mavericks. so that you can say they are no longer capable, when they have been knocking on the door for half a decade, sounds counterintuitive. but the reality is that this is a brand new Thunder core, untested in the postseason. it's a new device on each ends beneath Billy Donovan. it's a new roster with younger, inexperienced avid gamers who had in no way walked into AT&T middle for a large playoff game. it's a brand new universe the Thunder are operating in, with Kevin Durant's free agency overshadowing everything the Thunder do.
and that they just weren't ready. no longer for the Spurs, who thrashed them 124-92. not for the second when they needed to bring the depth. now not for the Spurs' triple-layer protection that held Russell Westbrook to five-of-19 taking pictures and 3-of-11 within the confined area. not for the swarming monitoring of assorted defenders on Durant to get the ball out of his arms. not for the second, no longer for the atmosphere, no longer for the chance.
not for the Spurs.
After the online game, each Donovan and Westbrook maintained that Westbrook had "gotten to his spots" offensively, but that he simply missed photographs.
"lots of my shots I overlooked at the basket against the bigs," Westbrook noted. "i was in a position to get to my spots, simply neglected some layups."
"I suppose he did get to the rim and he acquired to the paint," Donovan said. "I have confidence that Russell can conclude those shots. i assumed at times we had in fact dangerous spacing that made it effortless for them to rotate. I feel Russell's athleticism, attending to the rim, those are makeable pictures for him, with the place he become getting to."
The subject is that this isn't a new problem. This same situation popped up in OKC's regular-season series towards San Antonio, when Westbrook shot simply forty eight p.c within the limited enviornment. The fact is that the Spurs force him to outrun them to the rim, and bring two, commonly three defenders within the paint to attack him. Getting previous these guys may not be as convenient as "simply making pictures." The Spurs recognize he is coming, and that they're competent. And after they stop the large guns, they're now not exactly frightened of the supporting characters.
Andre Roberson: 0 for 2.
Cameron Payne: 1 for six.
Dion Waiters: performed simply sixteen minutes.
Serge Ibaka: eight of 15 for 19 points, however lots of these got here when the online game became out of hand.
in case you cannot make the Spurs pay for loading up on Westbrook and Durant, you could as smartly delivery specializing in some thing PowerPoint presentation you are going to demonstrate Durant in free agency.
speaking of Durant, there may in no way were a greater pissed off KD on the floor. He jogged back in transition on a first-quarter play together with his again to the ball, and Kawhi Leonard, who dependent himself because the most useful participant on the court, ran correct by using him for a dunk. Durant turned into steaming postgame, answering questions tersely as you'll expect Westbrook to.
When requested about what the players stated in the locker room after the video game, Durant snapped "i am now not tellin' you" to a reporter.
it's comprehensible, he just obtained wiped off the ground in a key playoff game. but it surely shows that there's now not a peaceful sense that the Thunder can recover. They understand how huge this hole is and what they face with San Antonio sensing an opportunity to position them down for the count. here is one video game, and Gregg Popovich and different Spurs intimated that this may have just been "a kind of games."
nonetheless it bound failed to consider love it. It felt just like the Thunder getting outclassed on the biggest stage.
amongst those who seemed to have a baptism by using fireplace became Donovan, a first-time playoff train. Donovan went to a rotation with Payne and Nick Collison within the first quarter, after Payne rarely performed at all against the Mavericks and Collison, likewise, has barely been considered in months. increasing your playoff rotation when down 20 in the first quarter on the street? that you can see it as hunting for whatever that may work, nonetheless it's a reasonably strange approach for that condition.
seem to be, let's now not beat across the bush. here's a really essential series for the Thunder, what with Durant's aforementioned free agency looming. or not it's removed from over, even if Saturday evening's result actually made it feel that means. however OKC had stronger discover a way to cowl the pick-and-pop with Aldridge without giving up 3s, and on the other end, they need to determine a method to get previous the second and third stages of the Spurs' defense, to get contributions from guys backyard of the big Two, and to fit the intensity of execution that the Spurs played with. They ought to do all this by the time online game 2 rolls round Monday. The Thunder defeated the Spurs in 2012 after happening 0-2 but risking that equal kind of gap towards this Spurs group isn't some thing you want to do.
So it's lower back to the drawing board, as a result of on Saturday, when the outlet bell rung on perhaps the most pivotal sequence in franchise historical past, the Thunder simply weren't in a position.
The Thunder weren't capable for the Spurs on Saturday. (USATSI)