The Oklahoma City Thunder came out in Game 3 with a real sense of desperation. They played more physical, their defensive rotations were crisper and they have thrown the Spurs out of the game plan that worked brilliantly the first two games. The Thunder were up 13 at the half.
Did I mention physical? Above is the video of Thabo Sefalosha smacking Manu Ginobili in the face. This was not malicious, but it was not soft and kind, either. The message was sent.
Lee is the best passer of the bunch, which could partially explain why he’s starting. Boston’s most likely starting point guard, Marcus Smart, is still growing into the role of the lead ball-handler at the NBA level. Lee and presumptive starting shooting guard Avery Bradley can take some pressure off him.
Olynyk can space the floor for Isaiah Thomas-Johnson pick-and-rolls with the reserves and run pick-and-pops with Thomas himself.
I’m a little surprised Zeller is starting over Johnson, though. The Celtics just signed Johnson to a $12 million salary, and I thought they’d rely on his defense to set a tone early. Like Johnson, Zeller is a quality pick-and-roll finisher who can thrive with Thomas.
This is particularly bad news for Sullinger, who – barring a surprising contract extension – is entering a contract year. It seems those reports of offseason conditioning haven’t yet paid off. Jerebko’s deal also isn’t guaranteed beyond this season, but at least he has already gotten his mid-sized payday. Sullinger is still on his rookie-scale contract.