The Oklahoma City Thunder ran out of gas in their game one showdown with the West’s top-seeded San Antonio Spurs. Now they enter a must-win game two in the Western Conference Finals with their backs against the wall.

Undermanned without big man Serge Ibaka, the Thunder relied on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook more than ever in game one. The two teamed up to erase an early 19-point deficit, but scored just nine total points over the final 17 minutes as they fell flat in the final period in a 122-105 series opening loss.

The biggest thing that needs to change heading into game two? Consistency.

OKC has to find a way to come out playing their best basketball right away on both ends, and that will naturally include playing better interior defense and getting off better shots.

It won’t be easy to tame Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter without Ibaka, but that’s exactly what the Thunder will have to try to do. If they can’t, however, they’ll surely need much better and more complete performances out of their two scoring studs.

In that same breath, the Thunder’s “big two” need to also find a way to get their teammates involved. Their other three starters in game one – Steven Adams, Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha – combined for five points through the entire game.

That can’t happen again.

Reggie Jackson should provide a spark off the bench, but OKC needs more from the rest of their starting five – specifically their bigs down low. There is also the chance the Thunder simply give more minutes to guys like Caron Butler and Derek Fisher off their bench, but the key is getting more out of the bigs that have to handle San Antonio’s bigs. If they can provide a spark and make the Spurs’ post players foul and exert energy on the defensive end, it will go a long way to help Durant and Westbrook toward the end of the game.

The good news is that Oklahoma City hasn’t brought the Spurs their best ball yet. In game two, they’ll be much more likely to do so.

Pick: Thunder 111, Spurs 106

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