You hear that “defense wins championships.” True enough. So does offense. But what really makes the difference is rebounds. When there’s a lopsided total in the rebounding column, the team that grabs more simply has a better chance of winning. They get more possessions. They keep the opposing team on defense longer, creating fatigue. Not to mention the critical emotional factor: it’s dispiriting to have a team dominate you on the boards. Rebounding is the definition of control: control the boards, control the game.
The OKC Thunder outrebounded the Spurs on the Spurs home floor in Game 5. And they did it by a lot, 54-36. If that rebounding edge isn’t there, neither is the opportunity for Russell Westbrook heroics at the end. After the last San Antonio loss, Spurs star Kawhi Leonard talked about why they failed, including “those offensive rebounds when we’d get [them] to miss.” The Thunder had 15 offensive rebounds in Game 5.