The Thunder looked hopeless for much of Game 1. Somehow, they looked even more hopeless in Game 2, as the Spurs took control midway through the first half for a 35-point blowout victory.
Oklahoma City Thunder RECAP
77 - 112 Spurs lead 2-0
5 things to know
The Spurs' unimpeded march
The San Antonio Spurs don't care if the Thunder have the newly minted league MVP, the one who's been playing at a historically great level all year. They are not worried about his best teammate being one of the top 10 players in the world, a point guard who entered this series averaging 27 points, eight rebounds and eight assists per game. They pay no mind to Oklahoma City's draft wizard of a GM or the fact that this young and talented Thunder team now has five seasons of playoff experience under its belt.
The Spurs have a way of reminding you of your basketball morality in the most ruthlessly efficient way possible. They cut harder, screen better, play smarter and shoot with superior accuracy. When the Spurs really start to feel it, the talons of their death grip are completely inescapable. If it feels like everything written about the Spurs references dying, it's because it's the only thing we know that's this inevitable.
You can complain about the loss of Serge Ibaka. You can question Scott Brooks' rotations. All of it has factored into two straight beatdowns, sure. But when the Spurs put their foot on the gas the way they did to blow open what was once a 36-33 Thunder lead in the second quarter, you realize that none of it matters. The Spurs just keep going, and at this point it feels like nothing less than a transcendent performance from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade has a chance of stopping them. -Ricky O'Donnell
Eighteen months ago, Sam Presti shocked everyone by dealing James Harden, confirming that the Thunder couldn't afford all four of their young stars. Much of the debate centered on whether it was wise to trade Harden and keep Russell Westbrook. Watching the Westbrook-less flame out of the postseason in 2013 was a pretty good argument in favor of Russell. Now we're seeing proof that, yes, Serge Ibaka was pretty important, too. With Ibaka, the Spurs are simply destroying the Thunder in the paint to the tune of 110 points over two games.
This isn't to absolve Presti of any blame in another season that appears to be falling short short. So long as Jeremy Lamb fails to get minutes, the Harden trade itself looks weaker, and his continued belief in Scott Brooks is a serious indictment at this point. But when he chose three of his four young stars, he apparently chose wisely. Harden borrowed the best center in the league and still didn't get out of the first round; The Beard has a horrific series, and his defense is almost comically bad. He's a damn good scorer, one of the best in the league. But Kevin Durant needs a paint stopper more than he needed Harden, a miniature version of himself. The Spurs' brutal teardown in the first two games of this series without that paint stopper reinforce that.
The capes will stay in the drawer; as I said, Presti has had some issues. But choosing to keep Serge Ibaka in 2012 certainly was not one of them. -Tom Ziller
The other guys
When people think of the San Antonio Spurs, the first names that come to mind are usually Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Gregg Popovich. But what makes the Spurs so good isn't just the individual brilliance of Pop and those three players. It's also how well the role players fit into the entire system. Players like Danny Green and Tiago Splitter are a big part of the Spurs' success, and both guys were at it again in a Game 2 beat down of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The first two years of his NBA career, Green was known more for his pre-game dancing than his on-court production. But over time, Green has come into his own as a lethal shooter that helps stretch the floor for the hyper-efficient Spurs attack. The North Carolina product made a name for himself thanks to his outrageous three-point shooting in last year's NBA Finals, and he has followed that up with another strong postseason. Green has been putting up video-game numbers of late, knocking down 15 of his last 21 three-pointers, including 7-of-10 in Game 2. Green's three-point shooting helped spur San Antonio's second-quarter run, and he never left up as the game turned into yet another rout.
Splitter just continues to get better and better as his game evolves. Splitter has always been a solid rim protector, but now he's adding a different dimension to the Spurs' machine thanks to his ability to initiate some offense from the high post. The big man had four assists in Game 2 and is averaging over two assists in the postseason, which doesn't seem like a lot but represents a marked improvement from the past. Splitter didn't have that element to his game in the 2012 Western Conference Finals against the Thunder, but now that he does, San Antonio is even more dangerous. -Jason Patt
Westbrook's burden to bare
Russell Westbrook had a bad game. He took 24 shots, made seven of them and scored only 15 points while somehow managing to be a minus-34 in less than 30 minutes of action. In between, he yelled at the refs and glowered at his teammates. Only Russ can take bad to unimagined new levels of awful while seeming unapologetic in the process.
There is no defending Westbrook’s performance, but once again we are left with the unenviable task of defending Westbrook the player. The reality of this series is that without Serge Ibaka, the Thunder are missing a vital component to whatever spacing they have. The effect of the Ibaka-less lineups Scott Brooks has run out on the court have left Westbrook playing in a phone booth.
For better, and sometimes for worse, the Thunder need Westbrook to be Westbrook. Games like this may serve to reinforce the negative image of his shoot-first game in the popular imagination, but they are really the symptoms of larger OKC issues: terrible spacing, unimaginative offensive sets and wonky lineups that don’t take advantage of the team’s enviable depth and versatility. Westbrook will take the brunt of the criticism and some of it will be deserved, but until the Thunder address their systemic problems, they will be at the mercy of their mercurial star. -Paul Flannery
Design and execution
In a way, it's sad that the San Antonio Spurs make the play they executed with 2:37 left to go in the second quarter so routine. Such beauty has been taken for granted for too long, even though it's often imitated, but never duplicated.
It began with Manu Ginobili sliding across the middle of the floor on what's known as a "zipper" cut. Ginobili caught the ball on the left wing, saw a Boris Diaw screen and prepared to deal with Oklahoma City's trap that pins almost any other player on the sideline. Ginobili accepted this trap because he knew that Tim Duncan was sneaking behind Kevin Durant to screen for Danny Green going to the corner. He drifted further to the sideline and waited until the perfect moment: before Green got open, before the Thunder trap swallowed him up, but after Steven Adams committed to Diaw on the roll.
This moment occurs for a fraction of a second, so it's not really a moment. Many NBA guards can make this pass at the perfect moment. Only Ginobili can make it one-handed and on target at the perfect fraction of a second. Before anyone knew it, Green had a wide-open three.
This is Baseline Hammer, and it marries the two best qualities of the Spurs: great design and flawless execution. Having Ginobili helps a tad too.-Mike Prada
No games. Go outside