Okay by now I’m sure everyone has read all the stories about how the Thunder are likely dog meat the rest of the series and how Ron Artest dominated the match up with the scoring champ and how the Thunder looked intimidated in the first quarter. I’ve read them, you’ve read them, I’m over it. We played the defending champs and nobody thought we would sweep them I don’t think, so a loss in game one is just a loss and we have at least three more games to turn this into a serious series.
Since we all watched the game we all know what didn’t work (Kevin Durant’s jumper, Green’s jumper, Thabo’s jumper—hmm there seems to be a theme here), but I thought I would look at it from the other direction and see just exactly DID work in that game, what has worked well during the regular season, and what we could hope to see more of in game two and beyond.
I’m not talking X’s and O’s here, but lineups. Lineups that give us favorable match ups and a better chance to win. We have 82 games of historical data that we can mine to see just where our strengths and weaknesses lie.
In yesterday’s game Coach Brooks used 9 different lineups worth mentioning (a few more actually, but they were for less than a minute and don’t serve our purpose here); a few of them he used more than once, starting with the starters, which I will call lineup A.
Lineup A: RW, TS, KD, JG, NK. This lineup got three stints, the first was in the first quarter for a bit more than 8 minutes where it was -4. Next it showed up in the middle of the second quarter for about 3.5 minutes and was +3 and included a 5-0 run. Finally it was back in to start the second half where it was -3 in 6.5 minutes. The total was 18 minutes, -4 , which works out to -15 points per 100 possessions. Not so good.
Lineup B: RW, JH, KD, JG, NC. This group got 3.5 minutes of burn and got beat up for a -8. I won’t even tell you what that works out to per 100 possessions–you don’t want to know. Interestingly this coincided with Bynum coming out and Lamar Odom coming in.
Lineup C: Same lineup as lineup B only Eric Maynor in for Russ Westbrook. This lineup only played a bit more than a minute and was -1.
Lineup D: EM, JH, KD, SI, NC. This was a good lineup for us both times it was in, unfortunately the sum total was just about 3.5 minutes. This lineup was used in the second and third quarters and was +4 and +3 respectively with Gasol out the first time and in the second. It was part of a 6-0 run for the Thunder.
Lineup E: Same as lineup D only substitute Green for Durant. Players make a difference. This lineup got burn in the second and fourth quarters and was -1 and -3 respectively for a -4 total.
Lineup F: RW, KD, JG, SI, NK. 2.5 minutes in the second quarter, -5.
Lineup G: RW, TS, KD, JG, NC. This lineup was used in the second and third quarters for 3.5 minutes and was +6 and +2 for a team best +8 and part of a 6-0 run. Our best lineup yesterday.
Lineup H: RW, JH, KD, NC, SI. 2.5 minutes +/- of zero.
Lineup I: RW, KD, JG, SI, NC. This was the lineup that I thought was unique. The commentators even made note of it’s unusualness. Obviously Brooks’ attempt at matching up with the Lakers length. It got the final 8.5 minutes of the game and was reasonably effective at +4.
- Again, not looking back at what didn’t work I want to focus on what did work. Lineup G was our best lineup yesterday and it was a lineup we’ve seen a ton of during the previous 82 games-it is essentially the starters less Krstic and plus Collison. It was used for 207 minutes during the season and was a solid +5.73 points per 100 possessions. Not to hurt anybody’s feelings, but if it worked well during the season (considerably better than our starters) and it worked well yesterday, maybe it should be a candidate for more minutes.
- Our second best unit yesterday was unit D. It was +7 in a small 3.5 minutes yesterday, but it saw 149 minutes during the regular season and was a stellar +32.46 points per 100 possessions better than their opponents. WOW. Lets get this unit some minutes.
- And our third best was the funky big lineup I. I thought it was new and fresh for the playoffs but it has been used before for 38 minutes and it was a very impressive +27.23 per 100 possessions.
- You might have noticed that our three best lineups all feature Kevin Durant. That’s kind of a Duh? He was also in some of the bad lineups as well, but all things being equal he obviously is key. The other guy who is in all three is Nick Collison. Those two are just good, and their good together.
- After looking at these lineups and looking for trends I thought up a lineup that wasn’t used yesterday that might be worth looking at, it’s RW, TS, KD, SI and NC. Unfortunately for me I wasn’t original. Brooks has already used it for 35 minutes and it’s +33.
- Against the Lakers during the regular season our starters are -20.39 PP100 possessions in 61 minutes. We need to stop force feeding this if it isn’t working.
- A really small sample but our unit G against the Lakers during the regular season is really good.
- Also a small sample but our unit D against the Lakers during the regular season was really really good.
So, do with it what you will. For me if I was coach for a few days I would use a bit less of Krstic and Green and more of Ibaka and Collison. I would continue to trust in Thabo and get him to drive the ball and get close to the rim. He is a good finisher and shoots 57% inside 10 feet. I would try a little small ball with Maynor and Westbrook, and I would run more. But mostly I would stop force feeding the starters, two of which are on most of the less productive units.