The Oklahoma City Thunder find themselves just one more loss away from elimination, after yet another blowout loss in this strange Western Conference Finals series against the San Antonio
Upon returning to Texas for Game 5, San Antonio added Matt Bonner to the starting line-up and Boris Diaw got ample minutes with the starters, instead of Tiago Splitter. The change added an extra shooter on the floor to spread the court and drew the Oklahoma City bigmen, primarily Serge Ibaka, away from the basket. As a result, there was extra room to attack the middle of the paint for players like Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
The changes worked a treat with San Antonio running away 117-89 winners and taking a 3-2 lead in the series therefore, they will likely stick with the new line-up. Unfortunately, that leaves Coach Scott Brooks with a dilemma: Does he stick to his guns and keep the Ibaka-Kendrick Perkins combination on the floor, or does he add an extra perimeter defender?
Thabo Sefolosha struggled to make much of an impact in the first two games, failing to register a single point in over 25 minutes of play. As a result, he was benched and didn’t make an appearance in either of the two games in Oklahoma City. However, the Spurs' success could mean a recall to the line-up.
He is an excellent defender and he would harass Boris Diaw, while also providing a threat from 3point range on the other hand - provided he can regain the confidence in his stroke. Although, a possible problem that may crop up in that match-up stems from the fact that he gives up a lot of size.
At 6’5” 215lb, the OKC swingman would be giving up 4inches in height and 35lbs in weight, meaning Diaw-who is a capable post scorer- can simply power his way through him, in addition to being savvy enough to shoot over him.
A way to counter that, could be to play Durant at the power forward spot, that way at least he could bother Diaw with his length. Plus, with a line-up of Russell Westbrook, Reggie Jackson, Serge Ibaka, Durant and Sefolosha, Oklahoma City would overwhelm San Antonio with their athleticism and fly around the court. Something similar to the Miami Heat’s defense.
Perhaps that would help them improve upon their dismal four fastbreak points from the previous outing.
Then again, Brooks could just stick with Kendrick Perkins. After all, his presence allows Serge Ibaka to continue roaming around and swat away shots without having to worry too much about his own man. If he were to play at center, that would mean guarding Tim Duncan and the "Big Fundamental" would take advantage of his tendency to go for blocks all the time.
Besides, Popovich admitted that the Spurs "don’t shoot 50 percent from 3, night after night,” nor do they regularly attempt 30 shots per game at the foul line. So perhaps making changes right now would be an unnecessary drastic measure.
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