Game 1 grades: Disappointment abounds, but who's to blame?

In the NBA, unlike school, everyone starts with a C. And a tip-off. - Ronald Martinez

We start pointing fingers and looking at how each player's role will develop throughout the series.

Check the boxes below for our take of yesterday's 122-105 Clipper cataclysm. This edition of player grades features Juan Toribio and Zebulun Benbrook.

***

Durant_medium

KEVIN DURANT GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game stats)
35 25 4 4 1 1 3 -26
JUAN Grade_cplus_medium
I don't think Kevin Durant played terrible in game one, but when you lose by 17 and you have a +/- of -26, that's not too good. Also, congratulations to Kevin Durant for his first MVP award, we hope its the first of many.
ZEB Grade_cminus_medium
I find it hard to fault Kevin Durant's performance in the scoring department. He did what he does rather efficiently. But his perimeter D was lacking at times, and you really feel like he should be able to do more when faced with the lack of a defensive stopper on the Clippers. Still, he's far from the Thunder's biggest problem.

Westbrook_medium

RUSSELL WESTBROOK GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game stats)
30 29 4 4 0 0 6 -16
JUAN Grade_cplus_medium
Again, I think Russell Westbrook had a good offensive game, but he needs to play much, much more aggressive on Chris Paul defensively if the Thunder are going to have a shot at winning this series.
ZEB Grade_bminus_medium
I think Russell's D wasn't as bad last night as everyone cracks it up to be. A lot of Chris Paul's threes were either contested by other players, or the result of a hot hand. Plus, you can't expect Russ to fight over screens against a guy who's shot so poorly from three over the course of his career.
Sefolosha_medium

THABO SEFOLOSHA GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game stats)
16 5 2 0 0 1 2 -8
JUAN Grade_c_medium
Thabo Sefolosha didn't get a lot of minutes, but I think he was pretty solid defensively. He made 1 of his 2 three-point attempts, and that's been the blueprint for Thabo to stay on the court.
ZEB Grade_c_medium
It's unfortunate that Thabo didn't have more of a defensive impact last night, but he didn't get enough of a chance to guard scorers. If Thabo is going to get significant burn in this series, I'd like to see him get more time on Paul or get more offensive responsibility. As it is, he's just occupying space 70% of the time.

Ibaka_medium

SERGE IBAKA GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game Stats)
26 12 6 0 2 1 1 -9
JUAN Grade_c_medium

Serge Ibaka is the most important player in this series, in my opinion. We know Durant and Westbrook are going to put up their numbers, but Ibaka needs to dominate the inside and at least limit Blake Griffin's production. In game one, the Clippers dominated, and as the rim protector, Serge needs to set the tone in game 2 and let LA know that it wont happen again.

ZEB Grade_b_medium
Wherefore art thou, Ibaka? After the first quarter, where Ibaka went 4-7 for 8 points, he totally disappeared off of the offensive map. It's always hard to blame a non-ball handler for not getting any production offensively. Defensively, I thought he did an admirable job on Griffin considering the circumstances, and I don't have a problem with him letting Blake shoot. You could make an argument about how he could have defended the lane better, but he was struggling with small lineups for large portions of time.
Perk_medium

KENDRICK PERKINS GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game Stats)
14 3 3 1 0 0 1 -17
JUAN Grade_c_medium
Kendrick Perkins is going to have to play a nice role this series with the Clippers' size and he needs to rebound the ball. We'll see if Scott Brooks increases his minutes, or goes with Nick Collison and/or Steven Adams.
ZEB Grade_c_medium
I think Perk might be a bit out of his depth at times in this series, though he won't overtly hurt us while glued to the rim-happy Jordan. I didn't like how he was played for a couple of boards, his turnover, or how he gets ignored on offense. But none of those are unforgivable sins, so meh.

Jackson_medium

REGGIE JACKSON GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game Stats)
30 4 2 5 0 0 1 0
JUAN Grade_cplus_medium
I actually liked the energy Reggie Jackson played with. Yes, he went 1-8 and took some questionable shots, but he was just trying to make an impact. He played 30 minutes and had a 0 +/- in a 17 point game. That's pretty impressive. Moving forward, Reggie will have to out-duel Jamal Crawford off the bench.
JUSTIN Grade_dminus_medium
So, today was a severe case of bad Reggie. Don't let the above statline fool you, as the vast majority of his positive stats were racked up in garbage time. In actuality, he wasn't tenacious enough on the perimeter or cool-headed enough on offense. Hopefully he re-emerges in Game 2 as a new man, as he's done so many times before.
Lamb_medium
JEREMY LAMB GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game Stats)
12 8 6 2 1 1 1 +9
JUAN Grade_bminus_medium
Even though it was garbage time minutes, I was happy to see Jeremy Lamb back out on the court. I think Lamb has a role to play in this series, but if the last few months have been any indication, the only time we're going to see Lamb is if the Thunder are blowing someone out, or getting blown out themselves.
ZEB Grade_bminus_medium
The effort was there for Jeremy, and he made as good a case as any for his inclusion. He'd make mincemeat out of Griffin on the perimeter, much unlike Caron. Unfortunately, he's still in the doghouse, and garbage time is meaningless. Ugh.

Adams_medium

STEVEN ADAMS GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game Stats)
20 0 4 0 0 0 1 +2
JUAN Grade_c_medium
Steven Adams had a role in the Memphis series, and it will continue in this matchup against the Clippers. He's going to have to play a big role, whether it's getting rebounds, blocking shots, or pissing someone off so bad that they throw a punch and get suspended. Either of those should work.
ZEB Grade_c_medium
I felt like Adams was a bit confused by the Clippers' sophisticated offense at times. It might be just because of his background as a greenhorn or my mistaking of highlights for reality, but I don't think he'll thrive as much defending the Clippers pick and roll as he will the Grizz' post-up. I'd like to see him hedge lower and keep more of an eye on the paint.
Collison_medium

NICK COLLISON GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game Stats)
8 4 3 0 0 0 0 -15
JUAN Grade_cminus_medium
You know it was a rough night when Nick Collison goes -15 in just 8 minutes of work. Collison is going to have give the team solid minutes against Blake Griffin and company.
ZEB Grade_c_medium
Hopefully Brooks' small lineup experiments haven't discouraged him from having Collison play alongside Adams. I'd hate to see the Thunder struggle with small lineups for long. Needless to say, Collison wasn't the reason for the loss.

Butler_medium

CARON BUTLER GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game Stats)
25 3 6 1 0 0 0 -19
JUAN Grade_dplus_medium
After his one game stint in the starting lineup, Caron Butler returned to his familiar role and was pretty terrible. He went 1-7 and at one point, I couldn't believe he was on the court. It goes without saying that he's going to have to make shots, if he can't stop Chris Paul from raining three's.
ZEB Grade_dminus_medium
These kind of nights are going to happen to Caron at this point in his career. But my arguments against his game tonight are the same as they are every night. He defends the perimeter poorly, sometimes letting players shoot open shots against him with no ball movement. He can't put the ball on the floor to save his life. He can't exploit mismatches on any level. And his shooting isn't really worth it. His rebounds were up there though, and that's all that keeps him from an F.

Fisher_medium

DEREK FISHER GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game Stats)
15 4 4 0 0 1 0 +5
JUAN Grade_cplus_medium
A solid performance by Derek Fisher. He helped make the final score look a little bit more respectful. So, thanks, DFish.
ZEB Grade_b_medium
Hooray for effort! Fisher's slower pace and cool head helped the Thunder make a moral recovery. It's a shame he was never more of a playmaker, even in his prime.

Jones_medium

PERRY JONES III GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game Stats)
11 8 3 0 0 0 0 +9
JUAN Grade_bminus_medium
Another player that I love to see out on the court, even if it's just garbage time. Perry Jones still has potential and he shows you spurts of it, which is exciting.
ZEB Grade_b_medium
Awesome garbage time performance, but those never score you above a B.

Roberson_medium

ANDRE ROBERSON GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game Stats)
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
JUAN N/A Andre Roberson was inactive so we can't pin this on him. Good for you, Andre.
ZEB N/A Do I want to see Andre Roberson in this series? Nah. He's still too weak offensively to not be too much of a liability.

Thabeet_medium

HASHEEM THABEET GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game Stats)
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
JUAN N/A Hasheem Thabeet didn't play either, but that's just simply normal. Love you, Hasheem.
ZEB N/A 7'3, big smile, tiny pants, and hopefully an appearance at some point during this round. If nothing else, Hasheem can give you a couple minutes of really tough and energetic interior D.

Brooks_medium

SCOTT BROOKS Coaching Grade
JUAN Grade_dplus_medium
First of all, I just want to say that I am a fan of Scott Brooks, but he got out-coached on Monday, and I'm afraid he might get out-coached all series. Brooks needs to have the guys prepared on Wednesday and with a better game plan. He needs to adjust to whatever the Clippers are doing offensively because if you're just going to watch a team drop 122 and not make any adjustments, then there's a problem.
ZEB Grade_cminus_medium
I feel like he did a good job of experimenting with lineups during the game, and I felt like his adjustments there could have been effective. However, the team felt very poorly prepared as a whole. The Clippers are an entirely different world than the Grizz are, so Brooks did have his work cut out for him. But the offense was still sloppy, not creative, and sometimes downright maddening. And the defense....well....

Thunder_medium

TEAM GRADE GRADE FG% 3P% AST REB BL ST TO
(Advanced Stats)
45.9% 32.1% 17 47 4 5 17
JUAN Grade_dplus_medium
It was just a disappointing performance by OKC. After a game where they dominated Memphis, they came out with little intensity and no aggressiveness and they got pummeled. If this team doesn't lock down on Chris Paul and make the paint a nightmare for Blake Griffin, there's going to be consequences and this team is too talented to be going home in the second round.
ZEB Grade_f_medium
17 Turnovers and 17 assists? I thought I left those kinds of team stats behind when the Eurobasket was over. For an NBA level team, this is an atrocious performance, no matter what the numbers say. The Thunder need to stop gifting the Clippers points, and stop digging themselves into holes of mental mistakes. Just calm down, run your show, and turn up the intensity when the situation calls for it. Because it's really, really hard to shut down the Clippers.

*All player images via US Presswire

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