By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
Thunder players had Friday off, though most of them came in anyway, but Billy Donovan and his coaches spent the day going through lots of game tape working on ways to counter some of the things the Warriors did to win Game 5.
Obviously they’re going to have to do a better job on the boards because the Warriors grabbed 45 rebounds, same as OKC and they were stout inside.
Andrew Bogut, who had been largely ineffective in the first four games, came up huge scoring 15 points and pulling down 14 rebounds.
“He was able to get to the glass and get some offensive rebounds, he had some rim protection, he played a very good game for them,” Donovan admitted.
And when it comes to rim protection Bogut and Draymond Green were was good as it gets. The Thunder were just 1-for-9 (11.1 percent) on shots at the rim defended by Bogut and 1-for-7 (14.3 percent) on shots defended by Green.
“At the basket we’ve gotta try and keep a body on him to limit his ability to rebound the basketball,” Donovan said. “And we have to understand he’s also a very good help defender so we’ll have to react well to how they’re playing defensively.”
Donovan is also concerned about what continues to happen with Green and his high kicks. He almost caught Russell Westbrook in the face Thursday night and at times looks like he’s trying out for The Rockettes.
“My biggest thing is, you’re always concerned first and foremost about player’s safety when they’re playing,” Donovan said. “Because listen the game is physical as it is already. There’s gonna be physical contact in there. There’s gonna be some pushing and shoving, holding and gripping. Those are what I would classify as normal basketball plays that are gonna happen. But it’s the league’s responsibility to look at those things that are maybe non-basketball plays.”
So far the NBA has declined to caution Green about his apparent habit of high kicking and if it hasn’t happened yet, it’s probably not going to until someone is seriously injured or that kicking motion triggers a retaliation from someone.
Donovan is proud of how his players have handled those situations in this series.
“For us we’ve just gotta be able to move to the next play and I’ve been really, really pleased and happy with how our guys have tried to stay focused and tried to concentrate on moving to the next play and not getting to the point of being distracted or retaliating. But that’s something the league will have to look at.”
In Game 5 the Warriors had some different guys stepup. Bogut was certainly one and so was Marreese Speights, who had 14 points off the bench. Their reserves scored 30 points. The Thunder bench managed just 13 and Dion Waiters, whose been great in this series, was shutout on 0-for-4 shooting.
“For us it’s gotta be a total team effort,” Donovan said. “(Thursday night) they got great production from their bench, their guys stepped up. Speights gave them a huge boost they got some really good minutes from their bench. Throughout the course of the series our bench has done a very good job as well but going forward in a series like this we’re gonna need all our guys to be ready and to contribute.”
Being at home for Game 6, where the Thunder have blown out the Warriors twice, will certainly help. And the Thunder can expect a raucous environment inside Chesapeake Energy Arena Saturday evening but Donovan says his team can’t rely on the energy from the crowd.
“It’s a great, great environment but I think as a player, if you’re looking for the crowd to inspire you to do your job, I think you’re making a mistake. I’ve always been a big believer that the performance on the floor creates the crowd. Our crowd has been great when we haven’t played particularly well and they’re tried to lift us back up but we’re responsible for how we play inside the lines and we’ve gotta be able to focus on that.”
The Thunder will shootaround Saturday morning and coaches will go over the final game plan with the players and go over whatever changes might be recommended to counter what Steve Kerr and his coaches came up with in Game 5 and what could be coming in Game 6.
Tipoff is set for a few minutes past 8 o’clock and you can see the game exclusively on TNT.