The Thunder's Big Problem

Wednesday, May 8th 2013, 2:58 am
By: News 9

Mike Conley plays point guard. He spends the vast majority of his time behind the arc.

Serge Ibaka plays forward, so does Nick Collison. Kendrick Perkins plays center, as does Hasheem Thabeet. They spend almost all of their time in or around the paint.

Conley played 42 minutes Tuesday night and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Ibaka, Collison, Perkins and Thabeet played a total of 90 minutes and only collected 14 rebounds – combined.

And it's not like they were too busy scoring. The four combined for 15 points, while Conley dropped 26 by himself.

5/8/2013 RELATED STORY: Thunder Falls To Grizzlies In Game 2

The poor play of OKC's bigs in Game 2 led to three enormously disturbing stats. Memphis outscored the Thunder 50-30 in the paint and 23-6 on second-chance points. And even with Kevin Durant's 11 boards, OKC was still outrebounded 43-35.

That comes down to either a lack of focus, intensity, effort, or some of all three.

5/7/2013 RELATED STORY: Facts To Know For Game 2

Where there's not a lack of aggressiveness there's a lack of execution. The four bigs combined for 17 fouls — that's two more fouls than points. Those fouls led to 15 combined free throws for Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph alone. OKC's big men took two combined free throws.


I know Memphis' bigs are good, but the Thunder's post guys have got to start doing SOMETHING to contribute.

It wasn't any better in Game 1. OKC's four bigs got nine total points and 17 rebounds in 88 combined minutes, while Gasol and Randolph alone scored 38 points with 20 rebounds in 77 minutes.

It's not realistic to expect the Thunder's big men to match the production of Memphis', but it is reasonable to ask they don't get manhandled. Grab another loose ball or two. Snatch that offensive board instead of trying to back-tap it to a guard. Meet the ball at the rim, don't let the Grizzlies' guards run in there and poke it loose.

5/4/13 RELATED STORY: Thunder Role Players Must Step Up Against Memphis

Without Russell Westbrook, the Thunder's room for error has greatly diminished. OKC can't afford for Kevin Martin to shoot 2-11 like he did Tuesday. In fact, had it not been for 38-year old Derek Fisher's 4-for-5 3-point shooting, the Thunder would have been run right out of their own building in Game 2.

Oklahoma City will now head to Memphis knowing it needs to take one of these two games. Durant has to keep playing like a Hall-of-Famer, Fisher needs to keep hitting his looks, and Martin flat-out has to play better.

But most of all, the Thunder's big guys have to man up.

It's hard to win playoff games when the other team gets 16 more shot attempts than you. Or when their point guard outrebounds every big man on your roster. Or when your foul total is higher than your point total.

Those things can't happen if the Thunder wants a chance to win a game in Memphis.