San Antonio wins series 4-2
|Game 1: Monday, May 19th|
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|Game 2: Wednesday, May 21st|
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|Game 3: Sunday, May 25th|
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|Game 4: Tuesday, May 27th|
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|Game 5: Thursday, May 29th|
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|Game 6: Saturday, May 31st|
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9:00 PM ET, May 19, 2014
AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
Tim Duncan scores 27, leads Spurs in series-opening rout of Thunder
SAN ANTONIO -- The San Antonio Spurs were planning to attack the lane whether Oklahoma City big man Serge Ibaka was playing or not. The fact that the Thunder's athletic defender was absent only made things easier for them.
Tim Duncan scored 27 points and San Antonio took advantage of Ibaka's absence to dominate the paint, beating the Oklahoma City 122-105 on Monday night in the opener of the Western Conference finals.
Tony Parker did not appear limited by a hamstring injury, scoring 14 points and having 12 assists in 36 minutes.
More From Game 1
We spend so much time hammering on the "team, team, team" concept the Spurs preach that we forget they can present some hellacious individual matchups, J.A. Adande writes. Dime
The Thunder didn't want to admit they were vulnerable without Serge Ibaka, but after the Spurs' clinical 122-105 takedown, the proof was on the stat sheet, Royce Young writes. Story
"We always want to try to penetrate," Parker said. "We always want our ball movement, that's how we play -- kick and pitch and stuff like that. You know, obviously it's a little bit better with (Ibaka) not being in the paint, but we're still going to try to penetrate and make stuff happen."
The Thunder got their usual offensive outputs from All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who scored 28 and 25 points, respectively. But Oklahoma City's remaining starters, Nick Collison, Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins, combined to score five points with 13 rebounds and one assist.
But it was defensively where the Thunder struggled without Ibaka, who will miss the remainder of the postseason after suffering a calf injury in Oklahoma City's series clincher against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Spurs had 66 points in the paint and shot 58 percent from the field. It was the highest shooting percentage allowed by the Thunder in the postseason since relocating from Seattle.
"We're a no-excuse team," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "Serge is out. He's not coming back. We have to play better. We have to play better. If we expect to beat one of the best teams in basketball, and a very good offensive team, we have to play and we're not going to make an excuse."
The Spurs fed Duncan early with Ibaka out, and the veteran responded by shooting 6-for-7 in scoring 12 points in the opening quarter.
Parker, who suffered a Grade 1 left hamstring strain in San Antonio's series clincher against Portland, drove the paint and dished to Duncan early before looking for his own shot midway through the quarter.
"That's part of our game plan," Duncan said. "He knew that they weren't going to let him shoot the ball like he did in the last series. They were going to try to take that away from him, so he knew he was going to have to be an assist man."
Parker scored all but two of his points in the first half as the Spurs beat the Thunder for the first time this season.
Spurs Impose Will In Paint
Without key defender Serge Ibaka in the lineup for the Thunder, the Spurs outscored OKC 66-32 in the paint Monday. In the four regular-season matchups with Ibaka in the lineup, the Spurs had averaged 41.5 points in the paint.
Spurs in the Paint vs. Thunder This Season
|*Tied for most given up by OKC this season
-- ESPN Stats & Information
Even though San Antonio improved to 7-1 at home in the playoffs, winning their past five games by an average of 20.6 points, Monday's victory was not easy.
The Spurs also still remember what happened in the 2012 conference finals, when the Thunder won four straight to rally from an 0-2 deficit.
"We knew that we have to play our best game to compete against them, and I think it's great to have an appropriate fear," Parker said. "They played great against us in 2012, and we know that we have to be perfect. They're younger than us and more athletic, and so we have to be more perfect."
San Antonio played nearly perfectly offensively and still rallied to take a 76-75 lead on Westbrook's 17-foot jumper with 5 minutes left in the third quarter.
"We don't believe in moral victories," Durant said. "Third quarter was obviously our best quarter, but we didn't close it out well. It's Game 1, we've got to make adjustments and be better for the next game. We're not taking no moral victories out of it."
Despite missing his first four shots, Westbrook continued to bull his way into the lane and it paid off as the game wore on.
Westbrook had 12 points in the third quarter, continually driving past Parker and the Spurs before they could settle in defensively.
With the exception of a pair of free throws by Derek Fisher, Westbrook and Durant scored all of Oklahoma City's points in a 23-22 third quarter.
The extended efforts exerted by the Thunder's two All-Stars eventually took a toll, especially with the Spurs bench coming to life. Westbrook and Durant were limited to seven points in the final quarter.
Durant and Westbrook were a combined 19 for 40. Durant was 1 for 4 in the fourth quarter.
"That's the key with Kevin," Popovich said. "You're obviously not going to stop him, but making him work hard is certainly the plan. It's everybody's plan, no matter who he plays against, they're going to make him work hard. I thought Kawhi was good, didn't foul, but I think the team did a nice job behind him, helping him."
Popovich had some fun with former Spurs player Steve Kerr, who will continue as an analyst for TNT through the Western Conference finals. Kerr, who became head coach of the Golden State Warriors last week, interviewed Popovich prior to the game. "Well, I'm not really sure why I have to have him interview me before the game because he's a competitor now. That's my concern. I don't understand that one," Popovich said, smiling.
SAN ANTONIO, TX - MAY 19: The Western Conference Finals logo is shown before Game One of the Western Conference...(Photo by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images)
Around The Association
MVP: Danny Green was 4-for-5 from the arc and Kawhi Leonard scored on a bevy of impressive plays at the hoop, but it was Tim Duncan's 21 throwback points in the first half that set the tone for the game and established a lead the Thunder could only barely overcome before falling behind for good.
Defining moment: For all their first-half dominance, the Spurs faltered in the third quarter, eventually surrendering the lead with 5:09 left in the period. But halfway through the fourth, the Thunder ran out of gas. In a span of less than four minutes (from 5:56 to 2:15 remaining), the Spurs pushed their lead from 10 to 21. In came the bench and out went OKC's chances.
X factor: For the Spurs, it wasn't rocket science. With Serge Ibaka out, San Antonio took what Oklahoma City gave it: the paint. The Spurs notched 40 points in the paint in just the first half against a Thunder team that allowed an average of 39.4 points in the paint per game in the regular season. They finished with 66 to OKC's 32.
Danny Green held the Thunder to 2-of-16 shooting when defending their players. Entering Monday, opponents shot 41.7% when guarded by Green.[+]
The Thunder had a defensive rating of 128.4, their highest allowed in a game this season.[+]
After briefly holding a 78-77 lead with 4:43 left in the third quarter, the Thunder were outscored 45-27 in the final 16:30 of the game. Of Thunder's 24 field goal attempts in that span, 20 were jump shots.[+]
Last 16:30, Monday
Without key defender Serge Ibaka in the lineup for the Thunder, the Spurs outscored the Thunder 66-32 in the paint Monday. In the four regular season matchup with Ibaka in the lineup, the Spurs had averaged 41.5 points in the paint.[+]
- The Spurs shot 47.1% in the paint with Serge Ibaka on the court during the regular season compared to 61.3% with Ibaka off the court.
- Tim Duncan scored 20 points in the paint, 14 of which came when he was cutting to the basket. The other Spurs players were able to find him, as five different Spurs assisted on Duncan's seven cuts in the paint.
- The Spurs also scored 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting on drives to the basket. Eight of Tony Parker's 14 points came off of drives.
Spurs in the Paint vs Thunder, This Season
From Elias: The Thunder swept the Spurs 4-0 in the regular season. This is just the 4th instance in NBA history where one team was 4-0 or better vs. another team in the regular season and they met in the Conference Finals. In each of the 3 previous cases, the team that swept the regular season won the playoff series as well.[+]
4-0 or Better vs Opponent in Regular Season - Met in Conference Finals
The Thunder allowed 67 points in the 1st half, the 3rd-most they've allowed in any half over the last 10 postseasons. The Spurs have now scored at least 65 points in a 1st half 4 times this postseason. They had never scored 65 points in a 1st half in any game over the previous 7 postseasons.
From Elias: The Spurs have won 9 straight Game 1s, the 5th longest streak in NBA history and longest since the Bulls tied the record by winning 11 straight spanning 1996-98.[+]
Most Consecutive Game 1 Wins - NBA History
The Spurs don't have a single player averaging at least 20 points per game entering the conference finals. Although there have been 12 teams in the last 20 years to make the conference finals without having a player average 20 or more through the first 2 rounds of the playoffs, none went on to win the NBA Finals (0-12). In fact, only 4 of those 12 teams even advanced to the NBA Finals. According to Elias, the last team to win an NBA title without a 20-point scorer through the first two rounds of the playoffs was the 1989-90 Pistons.
The Thunder are 0-3 in Game 1s on the road since moving to Oklahoma City (lost 10 straight dating back to when they were the Seattle SuperSonics).[+]
Thunder in Game 1s on Road - Since Moving to Oklahoma City
ESPN Stats & Information
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