After the Thunder 102-82 win against the Spurs, Michael De Leon, founder of ProjectSpurs, talked with me about dealing with a loss and some adjustments made by the Thunder.
Q: What was the biggest adjustment OKC made in game 3?
The biggest adjustment was the one I expected Scott Brooks to make since Game 1. I thought he would start the series with Sefolosha on Parker since Parker's had some really good games with Westbrook defending him. Brooks just made great adjustments, especially defensively. The Thunder forced the Spurs out of their comfort zones, stopped Parker's penetration, closed out on three point shooters and left Tim Duncan looking very uncomfortable. They took the big three out of the game, which won't happen again in this series.
Q: How'd you think Pop will counter it?
Obviously Pop will make some adjustments to try to get things back in their favor, but this is also a veteran team that knows they have to play much better. They really need to match the energy and intensity by the Thunder first and foremost. On the Spurscast recently, I said Tim Duncan had to be big in Game 3 if they played small ball and he wasn't. He struggles and when he was given the ball around the key, he looked hesitant and uncomfortable. I would also really prefer that they play Durant one on one and stay home on some of the three-point shooters. I was sick of watching Spurs defenders run at wide open three-point shooters. Rebounding also has to improve. If the Spurs let the big two of Durant and Westbrook get theirs and try to limit all of the big three from going off, that'll help quite a bit.
Q: First loss since April 11, how did it felt?
It was terrible. I've covered just about every Spurs home game this season and really enjoyed the run they've been on, but I didn't really recognize the team on the floor in Game 3. They didn't show the same veteran poise they had through 20 games and their touted offense and depth was nowhere to be found. This is a very resilient team, though. They've come back from big losses and from being behind in the playoffs several times to win games.
Q: OKC was expected to win on Thursday since being down 0-3 it's basically the kiss of death in the NBA playoffs, when exactly do you start worrying?
If OKC wins tonight, I definitely start worrying. That basically makes it a series of three games with the momentum on OKC's side
Q: If the Spurs win game 4, i have no doubt they will also take game 5 and wait for the finals, do you feel the same way?
That's definitely possible. I've predicted Spurs in six all along and I'm sticking with that. The Thunder are such a great team that it's hard for me not to give them another win, especially since they executed to perfection in Game 3.