Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks said Monday before Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals that forward center Nick Collison will start in place of injured forward Serge Ibaka vs. the Spurs. (Follow the game here.)
The option for Brooks were essentially to go with Collison or rookie Stephen Adams in a big lineup, or move Kevin Durant to four and go smalball. The Thunder will likely go to small lineups for long durations of the game, but the move to start Collison is a smart one to try and mucle San Antonio since the Spurs are so good in a wide-open floor game, and Tiago Splitter is a tough matchup if the Thunder go small.
They're going to miss Ibaka, but Collison at least has experience, can defend, rebound, and has an underrated offensive game.