Brooks Continues To Make Good Moves
By Randy Renner
Thunder head coach Scott Brooks usually takes the brunt of the criticism when things aren't going well for the Thunder and is seldom given much credit when things go the other way.
Like Kevin Durant said Tuesday during his MVP speech Brooks is a man who takes credit for nothing but deserves credit for everything.
And though he's still done some things that mystify, he's also made critical decisions and adjustments that have put the Thunder in a position to grab this second round series with the Clippers by the throat.
It started back in the Memphis series with whatever he said or did to bring Russell Westbrook back to his senses.
Remember Game 5 of that series?
Back home after the Thunder had won in Memphis and everyone figured the Thunder would win again at home to take command.
Westbrook was all over the place that night and not in a good way. Yes he had a triple-double but it was the most inefficient triple-double anyone had ever seen. 30 points on 31 shots and 1-for-7 on threes.
At that point in the playoffs, Westbrook was 44-for-128 overall (34.4 percent) and 7-for-38 (18.4 percent) beyond the arc.
Since then, over these last five games Westbrook has been outstanding 48-for-87 overall (55.2 percent) and 9-for-16 (56.3 percent) from deep.
Has shot attempts have dropped way off and his efficiency has gone way up and his team has won four of those five games.
The decision by Brooks to put Caron Butler into the starting lineup over Thabo Sefolosha paid big dividends in Games 6 and 7 of the Memphis series and then bringing Thabo back for the Clippers turned things around in Game 2 of this series.
Then in Game 3 Brooks' decision to stay with a small lineup going into the fourth quarter proved a mismatch the Clips couldn't overcome sending them to their first loss in 36 games at home when they had taken a lead into the fourth quarter.
Today more moves and adjustments will be needed. Brooks acknowledged that during practice yesterday.
“We have areas where we have to get better,” Brooks said. “We’re happy with the win but there were so many spots in that game where we could have executed better. We’re going to concentrate that."
The Thunder did a superb job Friday night of not letting some thing get to them, the quick early fouls on Serge Ibaka, especially.
And even playing small at times, the Thunder have won the battle of the boards in each of their 10 playoff games so far.
Now having won four of their last five games against the Grizzlies and Clippers the Thunder may very well be playing their best basketball of the season. Their stars certainly are. Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka have been both steady and spectacular.
And their head coach has been making the right moves and pushing the right buttons. If that continues in today's Game 4 it will be time for the Clippers to push a button too, the big red one with panic written on it.