Westbrook: Ibaka won’t be fooled again

By Jeff Caplan, NBA.com


VIDEO: Spurs-Thunder Game 6 preview

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Spurs’ Game 5 strategy to use Matt Bonner and Boris Diaw as “stretch” power forwards to bait Thunder rim protector Serge Ibaka out of the paint worked just like Gregg Popovich drew it up.

Ibaka admitted the ploy threw him off, and he had his first dud since joining the Western Conference finals in Game 3. Yet any notion that the San Antonio’s two role players suddenly present an unsolvable riddle for the Thunder in Saturday’s do-or-die Game 6 (8:30 p.m. ET, TNT) literally made point guard Russell Westbrook shake his head.

“They’re not the first stretch-4s that we’ve played,” Westbrook following the team’s morning shootaround. “We played Dirk [Nowitzki], LaMarcus [Aldridge], Kevin Love, all these different bigs that can shoot the ball at a high percentage, so we know what to do.”

Then Westbrook sort of chuckled thinking of Diaw and Bonner as being the type of gunners he had just listed.

“Boris Diaw, Bonner, man, they can shoot the ball, but that’s nothing we’ve never seen before. We know how to guard somebody that can shoot the ball. Serge knows what he’s supposed to do, we know what we’re supposed to do as a team, so we’re not worried about that.”

And there this was this final guarantee from Westbrook regarding Ibaka’s ability to make himself a presence in the paint in Game 6 assuming the Spurs continue to try to drag him away.

“He won’t be dragged away,” Westbrook said. “He’ll be locked in tonight.”

The home team has been the one locked in through the first five games of a series that coaches and players on both sides have punted on reasons why we’ve yet to see a fourth quarter that matters. Earlier in the playoffs, road teams were stealing games. The Thunder wrapped up their second-round series on the Los Angeles’ Clippers home court.

The Spurs, the regular season’s best road team, are only 2-5 on the road during the postseason going back to Game 3 of the second round at Portland. They’ve also lost nine straight, including blowout losses in Games 3 and 4 of this series, at the Thunder’s raucous Chesapeake Energy Arena. Oklahoma City has won four consecutive home playoff games going back to their Game 1 loss in the second round.

HOME SWEET HOME

The home team has won every game in this series and has dominated all of the key statistics. A look at the Thunder’s production at home versus the road in the Western Conference finals:

Home      Road

FG%                  47.1            42.8

3FG%                34.2           28.2

OffRtg              111.5            94.6

DefRtg              95.6            125.0

FB PTS              16.5             9.3

PITP                   45.0           36.7

Opp PITP         38.0           53.3

Reb                     47.0           36.7

Blocks                9.0            3.0

Steals                 9.5             5.3

Popovich and Thunder coach Scott Brooks both say their teams’ energy and effort have dictated the wild fluctuations of this series more than game-to-game, or even in-game, adjustments.

The home team has simply played with more force and defensive determination for 48 minutes. Consider in their two home wins the Thunder averaged 9.0 blocks (3.0 on the road) and 9.5 steals (5.3 on the road). Those stats go hand-in-hand with their Jekyll-and-Hyde fast-break points that are so crucial to OKC’s offensive success: 33 in two home games compared to 28 in two road games.

Those turnovers and fast-break points work the Thunder crowd into a lather, turning an already hostile environment into one in which visiting teams feel as though the walls are caving in around them.

“Just because we’re home we can’t relax and think we’re automatically going to win because we’re at home,” Kevin Durant said. “This team [the Spurs] is looking to get to the NBA Finals, so we know how desperate they’re going to be to win the game, how hard they’re going to come out and play. We’ve got to match it. We know the circumstances.”

42 Comments

  1. kavika6 says:

    Oops, that didn’t work. Sorry OKC.

  2. okcDoke2014 says:

    Westbrook and Durant are very good but they do not compliment each other with there current teams cast of players. The team lacks key components to win a championships. They both likely recognize this and are playing out there last contract with OKC, just like LeBron and Bosch did before going to Heat…………

  3. KingLBjBoy says:

    Heat in 5
    James & d others r ballin ryt now
    T.Parker is also injured
    oKC cant win championship with W.B & K.D playing on d same team

    • 36yrfan says:

      ….RW needs to ‘compliment’ Durant ……RW is the point guard…..point guards have responsibilities. They need to make the “offense” operate smoothly…………..if he wants to be a 2 guard/point guard then I would suggest putting him the Manu role…… He doesn’t start ….. but he FINISHES !!…….and many times plays More minutes than the starter…..Let Jackson run the point or get someone who will be a facilitator …NOT a ball hog tryin’ to compete with KD for glory……

  4. Kirby Record says:

    Many fans are so blindly supportive of their team and players that they are way over the top, and fall into the hate that seems to be spreading like cancer throughout America–especially on the political level. Westbrook is nowhere near the basket case of Lance S. and yes Parker has been a great PG but he’s wall along in his career. Give Westtbrook that many years and then we’ll see. A guy like Lebron James is so hated that he gets blasted for giving money to handicapped kids!

    Let’s make some attempt at objectivity even if we’re talking about guys on the other team. OKC, Spurs and Miiami have the lion’s share of the NBA great players but none of these guys need to be hated and despised because they play for another team. It’s really very childish to think like that. I am glad that the Spurs won this series but this doesn’t mean Durant and Westbrook and actually few others like Ibaka and Jackson haven’t been outstanding at times during the series. Spurs were just the better team, just like the Heat were better last year. Maybe not this year–time will tell. I think home court is the difference this year.

    • 36yrfan says:

      …we drafted most of our “lion’s share” …what about the heaters??? ………They bought ringchasers so fast and so often it is hard to keep up !!! lol….

  5. okcDoke2014 says:

    Go Spurs and old school b-ball, Beat the Heat !!!!!

  6. okcDoke2014 says:

    Spurs have the best chance of beating the Heat. Go old school b-ball, Beat the Heat !!!!!

  7. okc2014 says:

    You haters! Russell Westbrook brings life to OKC Thunder. He blows Tony Parker out of the water! OKC2014!

  8. TheKush says:

    Genius move by Pop in the last game by starting Bonner OKC looked discombobulated by that move looking forward to tonights game

  9. Vonhulland says:

    Go San Antonio!!!!! Possibly OKC’s big heads will shrink some> They think they are so good a person doesn’t even want to watch them……………

  10. Anthony not Carmelo says:

    Yeah and at least westbrook has been to the finals.

  11. Howard Clark says:

    Westbrook is not very bright. And NO understanding of team offense. He does fine with team defense. He is uncoachable (at least with this coach). So many times he begins dribbling 10 feet deeper than the top of the key and he’s going to shoot or drive EVERY time. Plus his air balls are not considered turnovers. But they are turnovers. He has had 6 in the series.

  12. ayy lmao says:

    Well if Westbrook says he won’t be drawn out, that means Diaw and Bonner will get open looks at 3s, and from what I can remember 3s are worth more than 2s in the NBA.

  13. Scott C says:

    so Ibaka hangs out in the paint tonite, no worries there as these Spurs are one of the deepest teams to ever take the court, they can kill you in a thousand different ways…. Let DG, Special K, and the Aborigine rain 3′s down upon Ibaka’s head!

  14. Maxipad says:

    Westbrook is not a problem he is the only chance we have of getting a ring. Take him off the team and we go out in the first round. He brings it everytime he steps on the court. If KD played as hard as Westbrook we would be close to unbeatable.

    • 36yrfan says:

      KD can’t do that when the “Point Guard” is chuckin’ up shots as fast as he can……

  15. Helen Stendt says:

    Poor leadership of Westbrook to blame the blowout loss on one player that was ‘fooled’. Odd that Durant calls the Spurs ‘desperate’. A little realism never hurts. The Spurs are ahead and hold the home court advantage;

  16. KJS says:

    The comment that “They’re not the first stretch-4s that we’ve played,” is stupid because he lists the all-star type stretch-4s whereas here these are role players. the allstars are in different positions.

  17. Chuck says:

    Do you think if this happened to Pop he would think that his players are at fault or would he try to make mid-game adjustments? But not a word about Brooks adjusting during the game.

  18. Jeff Almai says:

    I agree with Westbrook-He won’t be dragged away-he will be locked in tonight! OKC IN 7! KD & Serge Ibaka WILL NOT BE STOPPED! Spurs are going down next 2 games! Go OKC!

  19. Max says:

    The biggest blow hard is Russell Westbrook. He is the REASON I do not and will not support the OKC! He is just a shade different (nearly, but not the same as) Lance Stepson. Goodness a player can be could, but he also needs to have common sense about the rules that govern the plays for the NBA. It is NOT street ball. Westbrook got by with going completely out of bounds ,knocks ball out of Tony Parker’s hand (while completely out of bounds), ball rolling forward, Russell jumps back in bounds and scores? WOW, 3 Officials and NO one saw that? NBA needs younger and more alert Officials. Westbrook is a Great player, but oh, so dirty. Really makes KD look no quite like the MVP. Would hate to have to be a Coach and have the two above mentioned Players to Coach A Player can be GREAT, BUT needs to be able to play like a NORMAL GREAT PLAYER!

    • Autocorrect says:

      Both of his feet were off the ground while he hand was on the ball. I doubt it was intentional but it was still amazing, and WB isn’t nothing like Lance. Maybe you should stop hating for whatever reason lol

      • valery says:

        That was out by WB not even a discussion. And what most importantly it been very easy to see for officials. It not turn around play not even close. SAS would loose that game anyway. But to say it was ok, are you really that like your team so you will protected them no matter what.

      • 36yrfan says:

        …was not ere-established in bounds….therefore he is still out of bounds…..he also hit Tony’s arm/hand like RW does on most of his so-called ‘steals’…………..if Everyone could do that ….well …nevermind

    • ghhhgkhgh says:

      Stop hatin’ on Westbrook he is better than Tony Parker

      • Lets Be Honest says:

        Tony Parkers has how many more rings than WB. Wait, how many does Okc have?

      • Aaron says:

        Yea Westbrook has waaayyyyyyy more rings then Parker.

      • HTP says:

        LOL you can’t really compare WB to TP. The only thing that WB has going for him is his youth and athleticism, but he is SO DUMB and a terrible point guard. TP is a great point guard, way way better player than WB. Not even compared!!!!

      • okckd35 says:

        Rings are won by a team not a player. Westbrook gets the best 9f TP when they play head up. But TP is more of a traditional PG where westbrook is a SG/PG hybrid

      • 36yrfan says:

        ….hybrid !! …that’s a Nice way to put it…….okies don’t Need a “HYBRID” point when you have one of the best shooters of all times on the roster……you need a real point guard……. and for goodness sakes………..They NEED a real Bench !!! I bet there will be changes made in the offseason as their present lineup is NOT winning any WC Titles let alone a NBA Finals Title……

      • 36yrfan says:

        …Yes, Rings ARE won by a TEAM and not a player….and RW is a “ME” player and want’s to be the HERO……..and he just CAN”T do that….. not when you have a MORE talented player on the team……. RW should concentrate on being the best “Point Guard ” in the league and NOT the best player on his team…….and RW will never be better than Tony until he learns to do that…..

    • okckd35 says:

      Just like no officals saw duncans illegal screen that saved game. 6 for the spurs? Not only were his feet moving. But his shoulder,hip,and butt. Should have beem called bit what do u expect when u get 0 calls til the 4th quarter. Spurs got all the calls in their house and half the calls in OKC

      • Kalbo!! says:

        oh you just don’t know what you’re talking about. do you?

        ask yourself.. why are you the only person who’s making a controversy out of that illegal screening you’re claiming?

        It’s your turn now to go cry in bitterness. It’s ok. The Spurs undeservedly did so the last two seasons.

      • 36yrfan says:

        ….needs to go back to mommies’ house and lament ALL SUMMER LONG…….. Illegal screens ……..that is the LEAST of the okies problems !!