The Oklahoma City Thunder are at an early improbable impasse: win Game Two or go home, figuratively and literally. If the Thunder lose Game Two tonight, they will go home to a crowd that will surely have their backs, while at the same time will have already pressed the panic button in their heads. If the Thunder go down two-games-to-none, history will be on the side of the San Antonio Spurs… in a way. Of the 255 teams in NBA history to go down 0-2, only 16 have ever come back to win the series (6.3 percent). However, the 2012 OKC Thunder squad was one of them.
After losing Serge Ibaka in Game One, the odds of the Thunder making another historic comeback became that much more difficult. The loss of Ibaka reigned as the supreme headline during and after Game One as the Spurs crushed the big men of the Thunder inside the paint offensively. The San Antonio Spurs ended up outscoring the Oklahoma City Thunder 66-32 from inside the paint and shot 20-26 (76.9 percent) from there in the first half alone. The answer to this depressing riddle will not come easy for OKC coach Scott Brooks, but it better come quickly.
Being down 0-2 in a playoff series, all while losing the best big man on the team, would already spell out disaster for any team in this situation. Add the fact that the team they are facing is the San Antonio Spurs (again) and the Thunder fans just went from having a glimmer of hope to having blind faith, repeating over and over again, “well, the team did the same in 2012”. Although coming into Game Three as a Thunder fan with that kind of blind faith will surely help to lessen the blow, the fact will still remain that for a second straight season the OKC Thunder will leave the postseason early after losing an indispensable piece.
The locomotive train that is the San Antonio Spurs will keep on chugging along in this series and even if they lose Game Two, do not expect them to lose any confidence moving forward. If a team gives the Spurs Coach, Gregg Popovich, a chance to exploit a weakness, he will surely do so. Winning four of the next six against the Spurs is a tough task already to accomplish, but with blood already in the water, expect an unrelenting and endless barrage of Spurs players ready to feast on the Thunder’s obvious weakness. The fact that the Thunder made a comeback being down 0-2 in the Western Conference Finals to the Spurs before, just adds fuel to the fire. This is not the same OKC team from 2012 and if they go down 0-2 to the Spurs tonight, this series will be all but over.
Perhaps the Thunder can win this series, but it has to start the process tonight. Whether it is Brooks deciding to go small and athletic in an attempt to outscore the Spurs or deciding to simply keep the faith in their big men to have a better defensive effort, with Ibaka out, the margin of error in making this decision just became even more miniscule. Given the circumstances, Game Two is a more than just a must-win situation in terms of winning the series as a whole. If the Thunder win, it would not only keep them in the series, but it will silence doubters, build confidence and give Oklahoma City something to grasp on to moving forward. However, if the San Antonio Spurs win tonight, do not expect 2012 to repeat itself as they will surely be destined to play in the NBA Finals.