Posted June 18, 2012

NBA Finals Game 3: Oklahoma City Thunder won’t alter starting lineup

NBA

The Thunder have struggled to keep up in the early goings of the NBA Finals with its current starting lineup, which includes Kendrick Perkins (center). (Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks resisted any notion that he would explore changing his team’s starting lineup before the start of Game 3 of the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat.

“It hasn’t even crossed my mind to change the starting lineup,” Brooks told reporters before Game 3 in Miami, according to ESPN.com. The Heat and Thunder are tied 1-1 in the best-of-seven series.

SI.com’s Zach Lowe wrote extensively Friday on why he thought the Thunder should change their starting lineup:

If Brooks is going to start the same five players in Miami, he at least has to come with a quicker hook on one of his big men. There is just no reason to keep this unit — any unit, really — on the floor for nearly seven minutes when it’s clear an opponent is eating it up.

The Thunder have gotten off to two very slow starts against the Heat in the two games so far with its current starting lineup — Russell Westbrook,  Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. Oklahoma City trailed 20-10 in Game 1 and 18-2 in Game 2. The Thunder rebounded from the Game 1 hole to win, but the Game 2 deficit proved too much to overcome.

“There’s always a chemistry thing that’s important,” Brooks said of the starting lineup. “You just can’t say, ‘Just throw guys out on the floor and hope that it works.’”

As Lowe outlined, the problem lies with the combination of Sefolosha, Ibaka and Perkins, three good defensive players that require little attention on the offensive end. The Thunder have been unable to keep up with the smaller, quicker Heat team.