Returning to the comforts of home might be the only thing that relaxes the Oklahoma City Thunder, because nothing they tried in Texas seemed to work.
They had what seemed like a commanding second half lead in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals and got popped down the stretch. Their three best players played lights out in Game 2, yet they still trailed by as many as 22 points before falling again to what is clearly a superior team.
If Thunder can’t stop the Spurs from rumbling like this, there is little hope outside of Oklahoma City that they can do more than just make this a series by winning a game or two … the Spurs haven’t lost in nearly two months, folks!
Against anyone else, a combined 88 points from Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden (who rebounded nicely from his Game 1 struggles to lead the Thunder with 30 points) would have been enough for an OKC win. But against the Spurs, the deepest, most balanced and polished team we’ve seen in this postseason, the Thunder’s effort was valiant but futile.
The Spurs don’t need virtuoso performances from their Big Three of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. That group was outscored 88-65 by their Thunder counterparts in Game 2. But they can afford that discrepancy when San Antonio’s supporting cast plays the way it did in Game 2. (Spurs rookie Kawhi Leonard had perhaps the most impressive night of anyone, finishing with a 18 points and 11 rebounds while also making Durant work for everything he got).
What the Spurs have in surplus — skilled players with length in the frontcourt — the Thunder lack. The offensive deficiencies of both Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka are being exposed in this series. Neither of them is the “stretch four” the Thunder need to help extend the floor and play pick and roll with Westbrook the way Parker can with Duncan, Tiago Splitter, Boris Diaw, Leonard and, when need be, Matt Bonner.