The Spurs may have deluded us into believing they were preparing for Serge Ibaka to rip off his warmups before Game 1 in San Antonio Monday night, but they didn’t play like he was in the game. San Antonio scored 66 points in the paint on their way to a dominating 122-105 Game 1 win over Oklahoma City.
It happened from the onset. Tim Duncan was 6-for-7 for 12 points in the first quarter, simply reaching above the outstretched arms of 6-10 forward Nick Collison — who made his first career playoff start ever. It wasn’t just Duncan.
The entire Spurs team scored 40 first-half paint points, normally a pretty good number for an entire game, especially in the playoffs. The Spurs ended with 66 points in the paint, per NBA.com, with Duncan scoring a team-high 27 points.
Tony Parker had carte blanche to turn the corner on the high screen, and rather than pop out — normally the move to draw Ibaka away from the rim — Duncan just rolled to the front of the iron and overpowered whomever OKC stuck in his way.
Kevin Durant was 11-for-19 with 28 points and nine rebounds, Russell Westbrook added 25 points (9-of-21) seven assists and five rebounds and Derek Fisher kept them from getting blown out by shooting 3-for-4 from 3-point range in the first half.
In the end, it didn’t matter. Without Ibaka’s rim protection, Thunder coach Scott Brooks is going to have play more Kendrick Perkins keep the team small only for brief stretches. When KD is matched up against Duncan in the post, a dollop of drool (unlike the normal droll) drips from Gregg Popovich’s mouth.
Before we just hand the Spurs this series against the Ibaka-less Thunder, remember that San Antonio took the first two games at home against the Thunder in the 2012 Western Conference Finals. After those first two games, San Antonio had won 20-straight, and everybody believed they were on a collision course for the fifth title of the Duncan era.
Then OKC took four-straight and went to their first Finals. The biggest difference between that series in 2012 and this series? Ibaka was healthy and a guy named James Harden was still coming off the bench for the Thunder.
Will the Thunder make this a series?
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