Jun 2, 2012, 11:59 PM EDT
The reason that home-court advantage makes a difference in the NBA postseason is because of the fact that the role-players, bench guys, or simply lesser-known producers tend to play above their average capabilities with the home crowd behind them.
That was certainly the case in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals in Oklahoma City, where the Thunder got big-time performances from some unlikely sources to notch their second straight win, while evening the series at two games apiece with a 109-103 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday.
The Thunder won this game not because of the heroics of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, or James Harden, but because of other-worldly performances from Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, and Nick Collison.
Ibaka finished with 26 points on 11-of-11 shooting and was just one more made basket from tying the NBA playoff record for most made field goals without a miss. OKC moved the ball the way the Spurs had the first two games of the series, and everyone who ended up with the opportunity seemed to be able to make the Spurs pay.
Kendrick Perkins came out uncharacteristically aggressive on the offensive end and had nine points and six rebounds in less than 10 first-quarter minutes to spark his team. Perkins finished with 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting, and Collison was solid with eight points on 4-of-5 shooting.
If you’re scoring at home, that’s a combined 22-of-25 shooting from Ibaka, Perkins and Collison. And that’s before we even begin to talk about what Durant did while taking over offensively in the fourth quarter.
Durant did virtually nothing offensively in the first half. He had eight points at the break; he wasn’t looking for his shot, and his teammates weren’t looking for him, either. But he got going with 10 points in the third, before taking things over completely in the fourth, scoring 16 straight points for his team during a stretch where they absolutely needed a reliable threat as the Spurs came back from 15 down to once again make it a contest.
Durant finished with a game-high 36 points on a night when Westbrook and Harden combined for just 18 points on 6-of-23 shooting.
The Spurs jumped out to a lead early, and rallied late to cut a 15-point lead down to two late in the third quarter. But the efficiency of their offense that we saw from them in the first two games of this series is long gone, with the buckets coming more and more off of dribble penetration or isolation plays rather than more fluid passing leading to open shots out of predetermined sets.
The Thunder aren’t likely to get 41 combined points from Ibaka and Perkins again in this series, and Tony Parker‘s 5-of-15 shooting seems like an aberration, as well. As the series shifts back to San Antonio, the Spurs will need to rediscover their execution on offense, while the Thunder will need to do what they do in making sure that their best weapons offensively are the ones who are getting the ball in positions to make the open shots.
With all of that being said, both teams know what they need to do at this point in the series. Game 5 will be an absolute war, and the team that’s able to impose their will offensively will be the one that ends up with the chance to close things out in Game 6.
Dirk Nowitzki explains Mavericks not giving Rajon Rondo a playoff share, says ‘I think that got blown out of proportion’
May 6, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT
Rondo was a disaster with the Mavericks, and the team seemed to give him one last kick on his way out.
May 6, 2015, 1:45 PM EDT
Both are unrestricted free agents, and retirement remains a real possibility for each.
May 6, 2015, 1:07 PM EDT
You can ask “what should David Blatt do?” but it’s not like he’s hiding some great player on the bench, the guys there need to step up.
May 6, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
Clippers won Game 1 on the road with Paul out of the lineup.
Thunder GM refutes report he didn’t consult Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook before hiring Billy Donovan as coach
May 6, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT
Discussing the move with Durant and Westbrook was the team’s only option.
May 6, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT
Pierce also had some words for the fans.
Draymond Green after Warriors’ loss: ‘Now the whole world has collapsed, the Bay Area’s just been hit by an earthquake’
May 6, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT
Green mocks the level of panic some may perceive exists after the Warriors lose at home for just the third time all season.
May 6, 2015, 9:50 AM EDT
Allen has totaled seven steals in the first two games of the series.
May 6, 2015, 9:10 AM EDT
Nice moment for Curry and the Golden State fans.
May 6, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT
This is all about another revenue source for the league.
May 6, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
He was hitting everything, scoring 22 on 12 shos.
Tony ‘First Team All-Defense’ Allen and Mike ‘Masked Assassin’ Conley lead Grizzlies to Game 2 win over Warriors
May 6, 2015, 1:47 AM EDT
Memphis backcourt steps up defensively in 97-90 victory
May 6, 2015, 12:06 AM EDT
Sparties gonna Sparty
May 5, 2015, 11:04 PM EDT
John Wall was a late scratch, but Washington remained within striking distance for most of the contest.
May 5, 2015, 10:20 PM EDT
No smiles for Chicago
May 5, 2015, 9:32 PM EDT
Grizzlies point guard says foot injury still bothering him
May 5, 2015, 8:59 PM EDT
Only one Spurs player makes more than that
May 5, 2015, 8:05 PM EDT
Draymond Green: The Real MVP
May 5, 2015, 7:18 PM EDT
Huge loss for Washington to put it lightly
May 5, 2015, 6:33 PM EDT
So bring in Fred Hoiberg and send Thibs to Orlando? Not so fast
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- Doc Rivers on whether Chris Paul plays in Game 2 vs. Rockets: ‘Right now, I just don’t think so’ 3
- Tony ‘First Team All-Defense’ Allen and Mike ‘Masked Assassin’ Conley lead Grizzlies to Game 2 win over Warriors 18
- Hawks unimpressive, but pull away late for Game 2 win over Wizards 6
- Mike Conley playing Game 2 against Warriors tonight 0
- John Wall out for Wizards-Hawks Game 2 tonight 3
- PBT Extra: Will Doc Rivers sit Chris Paul in Game 2? 0
- Tony Allen on MVP Stephen Curry: “It ain’t nothing I ain’t never seen before” 23