Changes Coming For Thunder Lineup?

By Randy Renner, Senior Writer

Thunder coach Billy Donovan, who normally plays it pretty cool when asked about any possible changes to the OKC lineup, did so again on Saturday when he was asked how he felt about his starting five.

“I feel good about it,” he said. “I’ve got confidence in all those guys in terms of what they can do and what they can provide for our team.”

But when Donovan was asked specifically if he is thinking about any changes to the starting five or if perhaps the status of at least one of the starters might be “up in the air” he was a tad nebulous.

“I think we’ll (the staff) sit down and talk,” he said. Perhaps meaning there really is a change in the works but then he continued with this.

“I never like to say a day out who’s going to start the game, you know if somebody comes in here and tweaks an ankle so I think we need to wait and see the way things play out (in shootaround).”

So maybe not, as long as everyone stays healthy.

The questions keep coming up because of the shooting guard spot occupied by Andre Roberson and once in awhile about Serge Ibaka at power forward.

Ibaka has been ineffective at times, especially on the offensive end. He was just 1-for-6 in Game 2 and scored only three points. However, overall in the playoffs Ibaka is averaging 11.0 points on 52.8 percent shooting overall and 50.0 percent (22-for-44) on threes.

“Serge is a terrific shooter,” Donovan said, “He’s a really good floor spacer for us and he’s proven to be a great mid-range shooter for us.”

And Donovan continues to say Ibaka provides outstanding defense as well.

That question Saturday to Donovan was really more about Roberson. Even though he is shooting better against the Warriors (62.5 percent overall, 66.7 percent on threes) than he is in the playoffs in general (43.2 percent overall, 27.3 percent on threes) the Warriors are basically ignoring him on defense, daring him to shoot, in order for Draymond Green to be able to help double and sometimes even triple-team Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

By using that strategy Golden State has outscored the Thunder 100-70 when Roberson has been on the floor.

Green told reporters the reason for him sagging off of, or ignoring Roberson all together, is simple.

“Try to stop KD and Westbrook, and if Roberson makes a play, then he made a play,” Green said after Golden State’s Saturday practice at Chesapeake Energy Arena. “But I think anybody in the world's going to try to stop KD and Westbrook over him. That's no disrespect to him, but those guys are tough to stop one-on-one. So whether he was on the court or not, you've still got to load up for those guys regardless. It's kind of a theory. I think it's the same theory when anybody plays.”

But there’s no question what the Warriors are doing with Green’s coverage in this series is different than the way they would handle similar situations.

“Yeah, I think it’s been a little more exaggerated, obviously, what I’m doing” admitted Green. “It’s more exaggerated help. But that’s been the game plan.”

Donovan doesn’t generally speak with reporters after Thunder shootaround but that could change today. If not he’ll address the media at The Peake this afternoon at 5:15. Steve Kerr will follow at 5:30. You can follow me on Twitter @RandyRenner for updates throughout the day and from the arena beginning at about 3:30. Tipoff is set for 7 o’clock on TNT.


Randy RennerComment