Before Tip-Off: Collison to start for Thunder in Game 1 vs. Spurs

AT&T CENTER – The Western Conference Finals have invaded the AT&T Center for the third consecutive year, and one of the new storylines heading into Game 1 is the health status of guard Tony Parker (left hamstring sprain), and how the Oklahoma City Thunder will play without forward Serge Ibaka (left calf injury).

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said Parker did not participate in any contact drills at shoot around earlier in the day, but Parker was observed warming up before the game. On the Thunder side, Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said Nick Collison will start in place of Ibaka, as he’s the right matchup for Spurs center Tiago Splitter.

“It’s a good option for us,” said Brooks of the decision to start Collison. “He’s a good matchup for (Tiago) Splitter. Splitter is a very physical player – a great roller, finisher around the rim.”

Brooks also said there’s a chance the Thunder could use several smaller lineups if needed in the series.

“We can go smaller in our backcourt with Reggie (Jackson) and Russell (Westrbook),” said Brooks. “We can go smaller in our front court with Kevin (Durant) at the four, or Kevin at the five.”

“Our lineups can be very fluid,” continued Brooks. “We‘ve had that flexibility all year long.”

Around Arena Observations

  • For San Antonio fans, Charles Barkley and the TNT crew will broadcast live from the arena tonight, as Barkley recently sparked controversy with his comments on some of the city’s residents.
  • Manu Ginobili was observed racing his two twin sons in the hallway downstairs before the game.
  • Kevin Durant has some really interesting looking sneakers.
  • Who will wear a suit for game one on the Spurs bench? Austin Daye, Aron Baynes, Matt Bonner, and Jeff Ayres were all observed warming up pregame, so it’ll be interesting to see who is regulated to suit duties in Monday’s opening game.

Sights & Sounds 

Paul Garcia

About Paul Garcia

Paul is a San Antonio Spurs credentialed media member for Project Spurs. He covered the 2013 NBA All-Star Game in Houston, TX, and the 2013 and 2014 NBA Finals. Paul has been featured on WOAI, Fox 29, and numerous nationwide radio shows.