The Oklahoma City Thunder looked like they were on their way to stealing Game 1 against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night. Apparently it just wasn't meant to be, however, as the Spurs ended up coming back late and defending the homecourt advantage they earned during the regular season.
Considering nearly anything can happen in the NBA Playoffs, it's tough to tell exactly where things went wrong for the Thunder. It could have been the speech Gregg Popovich gave the Spurs about getting nasty, but more likely, it was due to the reasons our friends over at Welcome To Loud City pointed out in their reaction.
Things were looking so bright heading into the fourth quarter. The Thunder stayed in the game in the first half by dominating the paint, trapping perfectly in the back court and open court, and getting out in transition. The shooting was horrible, but they found a way through it. In the third, the Thunder opened up a huge lead by playing fantastic perimeter defense. But they weren't getting out in transition as much as they used to, and were resorting to shooting some difficult jump shots.
It worked for a while, but when things came down to it in the fourth, the Thunder couldn't hit and they responded by mindlessly driving into the lane. The offense collapsed, and the Spurs started hitting threes. But the Thunder's fate was sealed when the Spurs decided to go small, and the Thunder couldn't defend the paint worth a darn.
The good thing about this is that the Thunder should be able to learn from Sunday night's loss and change things around. The bad thing is that the Spurs have so many different options that it's difficult to gameplan against them when they could go a different route entirely in Game 2.
It'll be a fun series to watch, regardless of the outcome, but the Thunder have to be kicking themselves after dropping the opening game of the series.