2014 NBA Playoffs: Thunder game 5 disappointment starts with defense

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

The Thunder defense once again disappeared as the Spurs carved them up throughout game 5.

I’ve never been disappointed from the Thunder as much as in game 5. Since the 2014 NBA Playoffs began, we have gotten used to witnessing how poor the Thunder can play. It has been an up-and-down affair. However, there is one aspect that was greatly disappointing.

What makes me doubt the fact that the Thunder still do have the opportunity to qualify to the NBA finals is how very bad their defense was in game 5. Their defense was even worse than it was in game 1 and 2.

The Thunder had a good start in the first quarter and achieved a seven point lead on the Spurs, but suddenly that lead faded away by the end of the second quarter, when the Spurs scored 8 points in the final 1:14, and since that moment, the Thunder couldn’t achieve any momentum.

Disappointment grew when Danny Green hit a 3-point dagger lately in the second quarter, and then I figured out that Kevin Durant was supposed to be guarding him. Green is the Spurs' #1 3-point shooting option. How is it possible that Kevin Durant has now played 9 games against the Spurs this season and still cannot recognize that Green needs to stay covered? The Spurs got better as the quarter went on, and it was only thanks to Russell Westbrook, who hit a 31 foot buzzer beater, that kept the Thunder deficit to 10 at the half.

After halftime, I expected the Thunder to come out solid, but I noticed that their defense still seemed slow, and Tony Parker was starting to consistently get into the lane again. They were still struggling with the pick and rolls to the point that two of the Thunder players bumped into each other whenever they wanted to switch. The Thunder players reached  the level where they couldn’t recognize whom are they supposed to guard.  When the Spurs went to their "4 out – 1 in" which means Duncan will remain down the paint, and the rest of the players will stay behind the 3-point line, the Thunder players committed to much to the interior. This left players like Diaw, Green, and Manu open time and time again. Lastly, the Thunder failed to secure rebounds, which led to both too many 2nd chance points as well as Spurs fast break points. The 3rd quarter ended by 94-74 with the Spurs leading by 20.

Currently, and heading to game 6 in Oklahoma City, and it is now the Thunder who will face their 3rd elimination game of these playoffs (they won games 6 & 7 vs Memphis).  Home court will work in their favor, but it is not home court that will save OKC. It is their defense.
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