As the saying goes, "streaks were meant to be broken."
This win could not come against a better team. Before the San Antonio Spurs stepped foot in Chesapeake, they hadn't lost since February. Not only were some of these games wins, they were massacres. This militia of veterans obliterated teams like the Miami Heat, Golden State Warriors, and Indiana Pacers and took the title for number 1 team in the Western Conference out of the hands of our very own Oklahoma City Thunder... so you would think there would be some motivation to snatch that W... you were right. The Thunder returned to their old selves, and how ironic that it came with the return of Kendrick Perkins! To have a clear view of how this game went down, you will have to look beyond the box scores. As said in Chris's recap, the defense was aggressive, the scoring was efficient, and the will to win was evident. Is this a sign for the playoffs to come? Does Perkins actually give the Thunder more advantages than disadvantages? What did we learn from this game?
The OKC bench has its rough patches, and some of those can be credited to Coach Brooks. In this victory, Reggie Jackson was phenomenal. He has established himself as the leader of this crew and may continue to make a name for himself as the playoffs come around. Coach Brooks does not trust Jeremy Lamb, it is as simple as that. Lamb was the young man who built so much hype, then came Caron Butler. In the playoffs, Brooks will not play Lamb any significant minutes. When OKC plays elite teams, Lamb's minutes fizzle out. The downfall of Lamb came with the acquisition of Caron Butler. Brooks loves putting in Butler to shoot moronic shots and take the ball away from KD. I do not know what goes through Brooks' mind but in the post season, I do not want Butler taking ANY shots whatsoever.
I have a dream... In my world, there is only one person taking a three in transition while being contested and his name is Kevin Durant... end of story. Butler may be a negative in the playoffs, but then again, he may heat up... we will see. Steven Adams has made his way back to the bench and I think it is for the best. He was not excelling on the starting crew and is meant to be a bench player. He gives the bench energy and will be a source of it as the playoffs role around. As for Collison and Fisher, they need to keep doing what they are doing. They are fitting their roles and are not expected of anything more.
Before the injury to Kendrick Perkins, I thought, "this guy is a waste of a player. Then he went down and he took the Thunder with him. For a while, the defense was sloppy and lazy. In his return last night, the Thunder held the dominant Spurs offense, which ranks 6th in points and 1st in assists, to just 94 points. Perkins, just playing 12 minutes, was a clog in the paint, and when he wasn't running 2 miles an hour up the court, he was great. He sets great screens and utilizes his 270 pound frame to his advantage. In this clip, Perkins screens for Durant allowing him to have separation and create a shot.
Perkins' return will result in a lot more pick and roll plays. That is something to look forward to.
This was a statement game. The Thunder are still 3 games back from the Spurs. Yes it was just another W on the standings sheet, but this game gives OKC confidence. They now know that they can take on any team, even the best team in the NBA, and win with comfort. If the season ended today, the Thunder would face off with the Dallas Mavericks, who they lost to last week. The Spurs were the hottest team in the league and this win could not come at a better time.