Defensively, the Spurs weren't very good in Game 3. In fact, they haven't been very good defensively in this series. To ultimately win this series, the Spurs are going to have to step it up on that end of the court.
That said, the most blatant errors in Game 3 occurred on the offensive end. For a team that has scored the ball so well over the last couple of months, it was shocking to see how many mistakes were made and how many opportunities were missed.
Early on, it was obvious that the Thunder were going to pack the paint to force the Spurs role players to win the game with outside shots. Here we see Boris Diaw wide, wide open yet he doesn't look to shoot. Considering that Diaw is 14 for his last 20 on three-pointers, there's no way he can pass up that shot.
In the next possession, Diaw is again ignored. But again, he fails to shoot the open shot. Instead he pump-faked and drove the ball to the basket. He has to shoot that to space the court.
Once Duncan caught the ball, the Thunder sent a lot of defenders his way. In this picture, we see Duncan with the ball surrounded by four defenders. He has Diaw wide open under the basket and Green open in the corner. Instead of finding one of those two players, Duncan turns the ball over when he tries to pass it back to Parker.
Here, Diaw drives the ball into the paint and the defense collapses on him. He decides on a close-quarters pass to Duncan but the right pass was to an open Green on the perimeter. The Spurs needed to make the Thunder pay for collapsing; Duncan shooting a contested eight footer doesn't do that.
On this possession, the Thunder send a double-team at Parker before Duncan even comes over to set the pick. With three defenders defending a pick-and-roll, there should be a wide open player. But the players on the weak-side -- namely Green -- are oblivious to the fact that the Thunder have overloaded the strong-side.
While I'm not a fan of using Bonner in the playoffs, I understand what Pop was thinking. With Diaw not shooting and the Thunder sagging everyone into the paint, Bonner hypothetically is the perfect solution. Unfortunately, that hypothetical doesn't account for Bonner not being a legit three-point threat in the playoffs. As you can see here, the Thunder don't respect Bonner's three-point shooting at all. His man plays as far away from him as he's legally allowed.
With Duncan in the low block, the Thunder sag all five defenders into the paint. Again, Bonner provides no extra spacing on the weak-side. The right play here is for Duncan to pass it to any of the open shooters -- preferably Jackson or Ginobili in this instance. Instead, Duncan forced a bad shot.
The Thunder's disrespect of Bonner reached a new low on this possession. His man is literally 15 feet away from him. Obviously, Parker should have passed it to the wide open Bonner ... but he didn't. This failure to make simple passes was a common theme this game.
Later in the first quarter, Bonner catches a pass on the wing and uncharacteristically forces a contested three-pointer. Jackson had just hit a three-pointer and was completely wide open in the corner. This is a pass Bonner almost always makes ... I have no idea what went wrong here. (Perhaps he was too worried about going 2-for-1 but there was enough time for one more pass.)
The lack of passing strikes again. Neal drives in, the Thunder sag and Ginobili is left wide open. Even worse, there's a direct passing lane to Ginobili so Neal has no excuse for not making that pass.
Even Ginobili, who is probably the best passing two-guard on the planet, wasn't immune to the poor passing. Here, he gets blocked attempting a mid-range shot over two defenders when he has Splitter and Bonner wide open. (Oh, and Bonner again not exactly spacing the court.)
Now begins the stretch of the second quarter where Duncan tried to take over via 4-down. On this play, the Thunder ignore Bonner while Duncan has a great view of what is happening. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, Duncan passes that to Bonner. This time, for reasons unknown, Duncan doesn't pass it and instead forces a bad shot. (The Spurs overlooking Bonner is becoming an epidemic at this point. Could it be that his teammates have lost hope in him being a legit three-point threat in the playoffs? I wouldn't think so but that's the story the pictures tell.)
Duncan in the low block and the Thunder collapse again. Both Leonard and Parker are pretty damn open. Duncan, again, elects to shoot.
No, this isn't a replay. Duncan is in the same exact spot with the Thunder again sending extra help to the paint. This time, though, it wasn't as much Duncan's fault because no one else on the court took advantage of OKC's tactic. Parker, Leonard and Neal so bunched up on the weak-side is inexplicably poor.
On the next possession, Leonard drive middle. The Thunder collapse and leave Neal completely wide open. Leonard doesn't make the pass even though Neal is about as open as possible on a basketball court.
Here, Ginobili is defended by Perkins. He first gets his three-pointer blocked. When he gets the ball back, he puts his head down and drives right into four Thunder players. Jackson and Neal both were open but instead Ginobili turned it over.
In the second half, this is the play that got Leonard benched for good. Instead of passing it to a wide open Diaw, Leonard shot a step-back three-pointer.
In the final play we'll look at, we'll end things with Bonner again not spacing the court. Ibaka basically ignores Bonner on the perimeter yet the Spurs don't make the Thunder pay.
-Diaw has to shoot the ball. If he doesn't shoot, the Thunder won't leave the paint. Plus, if he doesn't shoot, Pop will probably turn to Bonner.
-The Thunder don't respect Bonner. They are playing as far off of him as is allowed by the NBA rulebook. They literally couldn't pay him less respect. Bonner is going to have to hit some shots to change that. (In fairness to Bonner, he needs to receive more passes when he's open.)
-Parker, Duncan and Ginobili were all uncharacteristically poor at making simple passes to open players. It's difficult to blame the role players too much when the Big 3 was so bad at making passes that they usually make in their sleep.
-The players on the weak-side have to be more aware of what's going on. If the strong-side is overloaded, the players on the weak-side have to either cut to the hoop or space things out beyond the three-point line.
-The Thunder's defensive adjustments in Game 3 were gimmicky, to put it nicely. If the Spurs were anywhere near competent with their passes, they would have gotten at least a dozen more wide open shots. Now going forward if the Spurs fail to make these passes or players miss wide open shots, this gimmick defense will continue to be successful. But, personally, I believe these Spurs are simply too good at passing and too good at shooting for this style of defense to be effective once the Spurs have time to adjust. One look at the film and it'll be obvious what needs to be done.