San Antonio take advantage of Ibaka’s absence inside.
The San Antonio Spurs clinched a comfortable win in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and were led by Tim Duncan with 27 points.
Prior to the series opener, the hosts were sceptical as to whether or not Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka was genuinely injured and would miss the entire series with a calf injury.
With the Spaniard absent from the court at tip-off, the Spurs made the most of it and attacked the lanes while using Duncan who scored 27 points and added seven rebounds and three assists.
Point guard Tony Parker didn’t appear to be limited by his hamstring injury, as he finished with 14 points and 12 assists in 36 minutes of action.
“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.”
It was the first time that the Spurs beat the Thunder this season, with the visitors getting their usual offensive outputs from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook who had 28 and 25 points respectively.
However, the remaining starters in Nick Collison, Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins combined to score just five points with 13 rebounds and one assist.
However, it was defensively where the Thunder struggled even more without Ibaka, as the Spurs had 66 points in the paint and shot 58 percent from the field, the highest shooting percentage allowed by the Thunder in the post-season since they relocated from Seattle.
Nevertheless, Parker has warned against complacency and has urged his team-mates to remain “perfect” if they are to avoid giving the Thunder a chance to get back into this series with Game 2 in San Antonio on Wednesday night.
Oklahoma City Thunder 105-122 San Antonio Spurs