The second half Gameday Thread will be along momentarily, but it's time to pause and talk for a second.
This is the latest in a collection of games in which we've played incredibly poor defense in the first quarter, particularly on the interior. We've come out without focus, gotten burned on pick and rolls, made non-scorers into dunkers. This time it was to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Giving up 37 points in any quarter is a no-no, but against this team and in the first quarter when you're supposedly at your most fresh and ready to play? This isn't working.
We really need Steve Blake back. That's the best step possible. But up until the time when he becomes available we need to do something different to start the game.
Since the issue is interior defense and defensive continuity more than offense, I'm disinclined to make a move at the point guard or small foward spots alone. Batum is a good defender. Travis is really the only viable alternative at small forward right now and he's not really comfortable at small forward. Sergio isn't ideal but he's got more experience than Bayless. Bayless is better defensively and on the attack but I don't see that switch making either a huge difference or the point that needs to be made.
What I'm working around to is that I think it's time to go with Przybilla over Oden at center again. I'm not saying our woes are Greg's fault entirely, because they're not. However he has been a contributing factor. He needs to be a paint defender and he needs to be a rebounder. Lately he's been neither, particularly in the opening stanza. A lot of it is recognition and comfort but he's also lacked the energy he has in his best outings. Przybilla would be better on the pick defense and a surer rebounder. Oden is still the future of this team but we need to get better starts to games in the present, not just the future. This might light a fire under him and it would certainly send a message to the team about the current playoff run being important and nobody being sacred.
I don't see this as a permanent move. In fact one of the reasons I favor doing it now is that you have some natural schedule breaks coming up. This game ends a road trip and begins a homestand, which is in itself a break. The All-Star break isn't far away, after which maybe you get a fresh start with Greg. You can always switch back then. A couple games of change maybe be enough. Besides, Oden could probably get as many minutes overall as he's currently getting, just in different places.
If in the context of bringing in Przybilla you feel you have to add more offense to the starting lineup in the form of Outlaw or Bayless I'm good with that too. We might need to relieve the pressure on Roy and Aldridge that a Przybilla-Batum-Rodriguez lineup could cause. But I believe that the answer starts on the defensive end both in terms of getting stops and getting boards, and Przy is the go-to guy right now for both.
Having watched the last couple weeks, even with plenty of wins, I'm not comfortable riding out the string into All-Star weekend without a shake-up. Better now than in another month when we're in the thick of the playoff run.