Each day, we are going to preview the night's NBA Playoffs action by looking at the adjustments that can be made by the losing team and showing what they can do to win.
Despite having the likes of Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins to bolster their interior defense, the Oklahoma City Thunder came out and lost game one to the 8-seed Memphis Grizzlies. If the Thunder want to leave Oklahoma City with a split, they are going to have to make a few adjustments.
Offense: Less Durant Off Of The Ball
Late in games, Kevin Durant struggles because is he too weak to work off of the ball and when the defense pressures him they can make his runs off of screens less effective. Normally, this isn't a problem during the first 46 minutes of the game, but when going up against the Grizzlies and specifically Tony Allen and Shane Battier in Game 1 Durant struggled because Allen plays Durant off of screens like it is the final two minutes for the entire game:
Here, the Thunder are trying to run a screen the screener set for Durant, however when it comes time for him to come off the screen, Battier gets up in Durant and pushes him away from the screen. This allows Battier to trail through and get the contest on the shot that is eventually blocked.
So what does the Thunder need to do? It seems strange to say, but they need to get the ball in Durant's hands earlier and let him work with the ball at the top of the key. This is where Durant has his advantage, using his height to see over and shoot over both Allen and Battier.
Defense: Make Zach Randolph Take A Dribble
Zach Randolph pretty much had his way with the Thunder defense, and while he is probably going to have an impact in game two, there is some changes that Serge Ibaka (who in m opinion will be matched up with Zach Randolph most of the game) can make when defending Randolph. The biggest, in my opinion, is that Ibaka needs to pressure up on Randolph and not allow him to get off his rainbow shots cleanly.
For some reason in game one, Serge Ibaka was playing slightly off of him instead of getting up in Randolph's body. This allowed him to easily get the shots off as you can see above. If Ibaka plays up on him and takes this shot away, it would force Randolph to have to put the ball on the floor and try to get by him. While that is somewhat effective, Ibaka has the athletic to keep Randolph from getting to the rim easily and has the chance to bother/block shots as Randolph drives. To me, it seemed like Ibaka was more concerned with Randolph's drive than his shot in game one, and if that doesn't change, Randolph will continue to be a big time factor.