Prior to the start of this year’s NBA Playoffs, yours truly characterized the Oklahoma City Thunder as a very good young team … without a legitimate shot at winning the League Championship this season.
Q. How come?
A. Scott Brooks still has a great deal to learn about coaching, and winning important games, in the NBA Playoffs.
Unfortunately, the outcome of last night’s contest, now serves as Exhibit A, in this regard.
Dallas Mavericks 112
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER 105, OT
Complete Game Info
Dallas leads the series, 3-1
If you examine the:
2. GameFlow Chart;
from last night, you should be able to see that Kendrick Perkins [C] was replaced by Serge Ibaka [PF] at the 3:41 mark of the 3rd quarter with the Thunder leading by 7 points [75-68] … and was never re-inserted by Scott Brooks for the remainder of the game, even though:
i. James Harden [OG-SF] fouled out at the 4:33 mark of the 4th quarter with OKC leading by 12 points, 99-87;
ii. K-Perk had led the Thunder to that point with a simple “NBA Plus/Minus” rating of +9.
Kevin Durant’s 9 Turnovers are not what lost last night’s game for OKC.
Russell Westbrook’s missed free throws and jump-shots late in the 4th quarter are not what lost last night’s game for OKC.
What lost last night’s game for OKC was:
I. Scott Brooks’ decision to play the tandem of Serge Ibaka [PF] and Nick Collison [PF-C], exclusively, from the 3:41 mark of the 3rd quarter, through the entire 4th quarter and, then, almost the entire 5-minute Overtime period;
II. While still emphasizing the Thunder’s:
A. Pick & Roll/Pop game with Russell Westbrook as their primary ball-handler;
B. Perceived “Individual Match-up Advantage” with Westbrook [i.e. quicker] used relentlessly to attack Jason Kidd [i.e. slower] off the dribble;
in conjunction with,
III. Their team’s inability to get “stops” late in the 4th quarter and the Overtime;
… without Kendrick Perkins on the floor.
Despite being heralded for the “brave” decision he made in the 4th quarter of Game 2, to keep several of his bench players in the game, coming down-the-stretch … in spite of their ever-shrinking lead … the simple fact is, Scott Brooks is still a long ways off from being classified properly as a Top Notch head coach in the NBA, when it comes to making in-game adjustments and implementing specific strategies, or tactics, at the correct time, which emphasize the right things and allow his players to succeed in a major way.
Hopefully last night’s disappointing outcome for OKC will serve as an invaluable [and extremely painful] learning experience for Coach Brooks and Misters Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka, Sefolosha, Harden, etc., when it comes to understanding properly the specific role that Kendrick Perkins needs to play on their team, going forward.
He is “The Defensive Anchor and The Rebounding Fulcrum” upon which their recent success is based, and he needs to be on the floor for their team at crunch time, if they are going to win big games against tough-minded opponents.