So the season ended and there was much cheering -- and much gnashing of teeth. To speed this along ... a final-game retrospective brought to light some fairly glaring needs, starting with Durant missing pretty everything. When your supposedly efficient scoring threat goes about shooting that poorly, it's a near-miracle that things happened to stay fairly close throughout the course of the game. But OKC somehow did in fact keep things close, so we'll pass up on ranting about Durant's goose-egg. No, instead we'll be here to focus on the two more urgent areas of need, as the last seconds of the game framed in perfection:
1. Interior defender with size (and knowledge enough to box out)
When Kobe misses that shot, it should have been game over. Instead, Gasol was given free reign to stroll between three defenders and tip that shot in. Going beyond the obvious question of why Ibaka and Collison failed to box out (leaving Pau with a clear lane for the tip) and the related question of why three(!) defenders in the vicinity failed to effectively challenge for a rebound ... the obvious issue throughout the series has been the lack of an effective (prolonged) counter to interior size. Taking charges is all well and good (Collison) but when you get shredded by lob-passes to Bynum/Gasol and you counter with Krstic in the paint, you're screwed. Ibaka brings smiles of a promising future, but we need more. This area of need was probably highlighted even better when Gasol and Bynum rebounded something like 5 times off each other's missed shots. This is something that would be nice to address in the off-season.
2. Perimeter shooter(s) / threats
Harden was supposed to be this threat, and it's likely that he's going to get better and better as he gets more experience, so this isn't targeted at him. Westbrook is improving, and he'll continue to improve on that jumpshot as he realizes teams are going to dare him to beat them from the outside rather than allow him to slash to the rim at ease. The problems arise when Durant can't shoot to save his life and Green/Westbrook/Krstic aren't all nailing those outside shots. Without the ability to spread the floor, you end up with such laughable tandems as Sefolosha and Maynor either failing to shoot open looks or airballing (or missing) anything they attempt. This pretty much allowed the Lakers to pack the paint and dare them to shoot. And they didn't. There wasn't exactly a good answer to that one. The Thunder were in salvageable position to win the game with 0.5 seconds left, but without Durant being his usual self there just wasn't a half-decent lineup available that any of us would trust to nail a catch-and-shoot opportunity. This is glaring area number 2 -- get at least one (preferably more) dead-eye shooters to bring off the bench or hope everyone seriously improves their outside shooting percentages. Probably both.
Both needs are pretty obvious concerns that have been noted throughout the season, but were particularly highlighted in this series. Feel free to post your thoughts regarding primary areas of need that need addressing prior to the start of the next season.