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Spurs dominate the paint in Ibaka’s absence, cruise to blowout Game 1 win over Thunder

May 20, 2014, 12:22 AM EDT

Oklahoma City Thunder v San Antonio Spurs - Game One Getty Images

We knew the absence of Serge Ibaka would be tough to overcome for the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals against the Spurs, thanks to the lineup data that showed just how easily San Antonio was able to score when he was off the floor during their regular season matchups.

What we weren’t certain of is just how quickly and forcefully the Spurs would be able to take advantage.

Without a rim protector on the floor and with the Thunder opting for small lineups to try to keep up offensively for most of the night, San Antonio scored a ridiculous 66 points in the paint, on the way to shooting better than 57 percent from the field while cruising to an easy 122-105 victory to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

The Spurs took nearly half of their 87 shots right at the rim, and went 31-of-43 from the restricted area, good for 72.1 percent. By contrast, the Thunder only made a total of 37 shots, and instead were forced to try to keep pace with a high number of free throw attempts, and above average shooting from three-point distance.

Nick Collison got the start for Oklahoma City in place of Ibaka, but proved to be ineffective almost immediately. He badly missed a couple of the open looks Ibaka normally knocks down at a high percentage, and did nothing in the early going defensively to earn an extended stay on the floor. Scott Brooks decided to go with incredibly small lineups to try to match San Antonio’s offensive output, but it didn’t solve the problem of slowing the Spurs down.

Oklahoma City was able to make a run in the third quarter, thanks to more traditional lineups forcing the Spurs into longer possessions offensively, along with some firepower of their own, courtesy of Russell Westbrook. The explosive guard attacked the rim time and again in the period, scoring 12 of his 25 points in the third while bringing his team back.

But a 10-0 run from the Spurs to close the third had the lead back up to nine before the period was finished, and with the Thunder out of answers, San Antonio ran away with it in the fourth, pushing the lead to as many as 23 points before the game was finished.

Kevin Durant made some momentum-killing shots to keep his team close, and finished with 28 points, nine rebounds and five assists. But he was just 5-of-12 in the second half, and it seems as though his team will need transcendent performances from the reigning MVP just to have a shot against these Spurs.

After the Pacers took Game 1 in the East from the Heat at home, it felt like caution was warranted before jumping to conclusions — it’s just one game, and it’s likely to be a long series. But after watching the way the Spurs offense rolled over a Thunder team missing its key interior defender, Game 1 in the West feels like we could see three more just like it.

  1. prokilla - May 20, 2014 at 12:40 AM

    doesn’t look 2 good for OKC w/o Ibaka. If you watch Games of throne, this is funny.

    • ddpenny - May 20, 2014 at 12:56 AM

      very funny. that’s right. The spurs are coming!

      • prokilla - May 20, 2014 at 1:08 AM

        love pop as the “White Walker”… The Spurs are coming….

    • Nadeem - May 20, 2014 at 1:37 AM

      Thanks for sharing…I do not know how I missed it. Amazing video. Spurs as whitewalkers is brilliant. So is the part with D Rose.

      • prokilla - May 20, 2014 at 1:45 AM

        “Boozer” ( Hodor)

    • abchome - May 20, 2014 at 5:31 AM

      So funny!

    • loungefly74 - May 20, 2014 at 8:15 AM

      brillant! great job of casting players to the respective G0T characters. I cringed but laughed and accepted the lakers as the Freys…ohh, they are a dirty bunch. Pacers could have been House Bolton as well. great link, Prokilla!

    • 1forest1 - May 20, 2014 at 10:14 AM


    • bougin89 - May 20, 2014 at 11:08 AM

      If I could like this 100 times I would. Thanks for sharing!

  2. jbeagles23 - May 20, 2014 at 12:53 AM

    Spurs are the best team in these playoffs but okc will give them a run for their money

    • money2long - May 20, 2014 at 1:23 AM

      I can dig it

    • apkyletexas - May 20, 2014 at 1:41 AM

      First shot of the game, Durant goes up for a layup and Splitter fouls him hard. Durant laid on the floor for a few seconds. I had a feeling the Spurs were sending a message – this isn’t going to be 2012 again. Nothing easy this time.

    • antistratfordian - May 20, 2014 at 2:25 AM

      The Spurs haven’t been the best team overall. But that doesn’t really matter. The only thing that matters is who advances to the next round.

      • kb2408 - May 20, 2014 at 8:59 AM

        “The Spurs haven’t been the best team overall.”
        Dude, what playoffs have you been watching? They have looked like the best team by far.

      • antistratfordian - May 20, 2014 at 4:10 PM

        So when you saw the Mavs win Game 6 to force a Game 7 in the first round you were thinking, “man, the Spurs looks like the best team by far!!”?

        I don’t think so. The Spurs haven’t been the best team overall.

      • bucrightoff - May 20, 2014 at 11:16 AM

        He doesn’t cheer for a team, he lusts over a player.

  3. savvybynature - May 20, 2014 at 12:54 AM

    Duncan was great tonight! Leonard looked better than ever!

    • the1nonlyk - May 20, 2014 at 12:00 PM

      agreed! old? boring? thats not at all what i saw!!

  4. syrinx35 - May 20, 2014 at 12:59 AM

    Always fun to see OKC lose. As I predicted last week, the Spurs are good enough that the officials can’t bail the Thunder out in this series. The NBA could still suspend a key player for a marginal infraction like they did to Zach Randolph, though.

    Spurs in 5….

  5. realfootballfan - May 20, 2014 at 1:34 AM

    OKC didn’t show up today much like Miami yesterday. They should both bring a better effort in their game 2’s.

  6. tuberippin - May 20, 2014 at 2:41 AM

    Coming soon: Spurs-Heat II: This Time, It’s Personal

    • 00maltliquor - May 20, 2014 at 3:23 AM

      Too bad this time it’s only a 6 game movie with the same results.

      • tuberippin - May 21, 2014 at 3:26 AM

        Ballsy claim to make considering how the Heat have looked for the majority of this postseason versus how the Spurs have looked all year.

        I’m not a fan of either team, just a fan of good basketball…but remember that the Spurs were one Ray Allen 3-pointer away from being the champions last season.

      • 00maltliquor - May 21, 2014 at 3:33 AM

        Yeah, don’t remind me! Not a Spurs fan but that game 6 hurt real bad. I just don’t believe in SAS. It’s the same story every year for them (this decade), best in the league regular season, go home empty handed. How many times do you have to watch the same movie before you figure out there isn’t an alternate ending?

  7. 00maltliquor - May 20, 2014 at 3:26 AM

    Heat/Spurs book it, sadly. Heat get their 3rd straight, LeBron re-signs. Boring. No fun.

    And to those of you who will respond, “not so quick, Heat down 0-1″…….bwah hahahhahahahahaha….SO

  8. ravenswhat - May 20, 2014 at 7:32 AM

    It’s pretty obvious the Thunder have zero chance to win this series. I’ll be shocked if it even sees a game 6.

  9. rodyaugu - May 20, 2014 at 7:55 AM

    The spurs would still dominate the paint even if Ibaka was there.

  10. jbeagles23 - May 20, 2014 at 8:00 AM

    You’re naive to believe ibaka wouldn’t help in the paint

    • rodyaugu - May 20, 2014 at 8:41 AM

      He would’ve blocked a couple shots, but one man isn’t the reason they got dominated in the painted area.

      • kb2408 - May 20, 2014 at 9:03 AM

        I agree. Serge would’ve helped but the Spurs are a well-oiled machine right now. They still would’ve done a lot of scoring in the paint. Serge can’t cover everyone.

  11. willkill4caffeine - May 20, 2014 at 11:58 AM

    The San Antonio Spurs. “Flopping for the Finals since 2001”

    • the1nonlyk - May 20, 2014 at 12:04 PM

      uh what game wer u watching? i havent seen any calls that wer flops in this postseason. wow so many spurs haters on these message boards. but according to all haters u shouldnt b worried about these old guys right??

      • willkill4caffeine - May 20, 2014 at 2:15 PM

        I actually enjoy watching both the Spurs and Thunder play. They are two of my favorite postseason teams, otherwise I have no allegiance to either of them. The issue I have with your comment is you haven’t seen any “calls” that were flops. That means jack-diddly. If you don’t believe me, go to YouTube, it’s literally saturated with flop highlight-reels from just this season’s playoffs. And even though I enjoy watching the Spurs play, collectively, they flop more than any team I can remember seeing in recent memory. Agree or disagree, that’s my opinion.

      • the1nonlyk - May 20, 2014 at 7:34 PM

        okay disagree. while some calls might have been questionable i have not seen flopalooza like you r talkin about and i drfinitely dont think the spurs are the top floppers. also anything slowed down via youtube can look floppy hello its not in real time just like any replay its slowed down frame by frame so that you can see clearer

  12. the1nonlyk - May 20, 2014 at 11:58 AM

    go spurs go!! mhhhh im lovin it!!

  13. marcusfitzhugh - May 20, 2014 at 6:52 PM

    Maybe Scott should have let D Fish coach. He said it was a good idea.

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