After getting thoroughly handled in game one of the NBA Western Conference Finals on Monday night by the San Antonio Spurs, the Oklahoma City Thunder clearly have to make adjustments. Obviously it would help tremendously if Serge Ibaka could miraculously return, but that’s not exactly an option at this point.
One of the major issues that the Thunder have to sure up coming into Wednesday night’s Game 2 is their defense. OKC let the Spurs run rampant on Monday night, allowing 122 points on over 50 percent shooting from both the field and beyond-the-arc. However, that’s not the lone problem that Oklahoma City is up against.
In game one, Reggie Jackson and Derek Fisher both provided complimentary offense as they combined for 21 points on 10-17 shooting from the floor and 5-8 shooting from three. However, that really only served as them basically combining to give the Thunder the contributions that they’re missing from Ibaka. Outside of that, their role players failed to deliver in a capacity that would help the Thunder knock off the Spurs.
With Jeremy Lamb now taking a backseat in OKC’s rotation, the Thunder desperately need Caron Butler to rise to the occasion and make an impact in Game 2 and going forward. Though the Spurs would love for him to try and take over by himself, he simply has to convert on the opportunities given to him and not come up short like he did in game one shooting 2-6 from the floor and 1-4 from three for only nine points.
Obviously the crux of the Thunder’s success will continue to hinge on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook being dominant, but they can’t go at it alone. It feels like it’s been the story with this team all year, but they need their role players to simply fill their niches which is heightened by the absence of Ibaka. If there’s one guy that truly needs to step up, though, it’s Butler.