The Oklahoma City Thunder took care of their own business on Saturday by winning at home and defeating the San Antonio Spurs 109-103 in game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. The reaction to the games have been compelling, but lets offer both sides of the story from a Thunder and a Spurs perspective.
In Games 1 & 2, the Thunder gave up 39 and 37 points in two different quarters, and it felt like they had given up more. OKC has three amazing offensive talents, but they were not keeping pace. Great offense was not going to win games. So OKC retooled its game plan, focused on getting defensive stops, and clamped down on Tony Parker and the Spurs. To paraphrase Apollo Creed, the Thunder may not be great defenders, but they can play defense great.
Tony Parker not matching the hero the Thunder have in Kevin Durant. Yes, I know, the Spurs and its fans abhor the topic of hero ball as Pop absolutely dislikes Craig Sager sideline interviews. But on nights when a team on its backside needs inspiration, it will inevitably need one. It may not come in traditional hero ball fashion like demoralizing isolation plays. It could still be in the form of crisp passes leading to buckets, the timeliness of scores to break through a psychologically tough to mount 4-point deficit, or a critical defensive stop. I do think Parker tried, but maybe at one point, he kept on trying to prove a point to the refs that he was being fouled as he repeatedly penetrated, threw the ball up fishing for a foul that never came.
Game 5 on Monday night will be a doozy. The wise men with NBA playoff seasoning always say that the series isn't really a series until a road team wins a game. Will we get one on Monday?