Scotty Brooks was even questioning his own decision making down the stretch of game one of the Western Conference Finals. He had just sat Serge Ibaka for much of the fourth quarter in the first game against the San Antonio Spurs and his OKC Thunder had the hosts on the ropes late. But the lack of interior defense allowed the Spurs to come back down the stretch. It’s a mistake he likely won’t make again.
Sam Smith said he should hope not, but that’s not the only rotational strategy he questions. He also wonders why Derek Fisher enjoyed so much time on the court as well in the fourth:
The Thunder blew it not playing Serge Ibaka the entire fourth quarter with Kevin Durant moving to power forward, which they do. Kendrick Perkins is a fraud, as we know, and had zero rebounds in almost nine fourth quarter minutes. Without any shot blocking, the Spurs won driving the ball to the basket. I know Derek Fisher was hitting shots. But nine fourth quarter minutes? No wonder the Spurs scored 39 points in the fourth.
The Thunder might believe that playing experienced veterans will help at this point, but it’s the fresh legs and incredible athleticism that got them here. Fisher and Perkins are liabilities at this stage and Brooks needs to admit as much. They must be used wisely and he can’t be afraid to go with youth even in the final minutes.
We’ll see what adjustments he makes heading into game two.