- PG: Tony Parker
- SG: Danny Green
- SF: Kawhi Leonard
- PF: LaMarcus Aldridge
- C: Tim Duncan
Game 3 Preview of San Antonio Spurs at OKC Thunder
The San Antonio Spurs weren’t supposed to have any trouble with the Oklahoma City Thunder at home in their second round NBA playoff series. That assumption was only natural, as they maneuvered through the 2015-16 NBA season with just one loss at home – to the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
Although marred in controversy, San Antonio indeed had trouble with OKC at home in game two, losing a tight battle and allowing the series to enter Chesapeake Energy Arena tied, 1-1. Just like that, the ageless Spurs lost their seemingly infallible home court edge and a game one rout looked to be far off in the distance.
The big question, of course, is if the seasoned Spurs will dig deep and take back control of the series in Oklahoma City on Friday night. Judging by the Thunder’s stout 32-9 record at home during the regular season, that could prove to be difficult. Then again, the Spurs would merely be returning the favor.
San Antonio Spurs Team Preview
LaMarcus Aldridge has been every bit as good as the Spurs hoped he’d be after signing him this past summer, and he made his presence known in this series immediately, pouring in 38 and 41 points through the first two games.
The problem? OKC showed up in game two and none of the other Spurs did. Tim Duncan couldn’t hit anything, Tony Parker wasn’t assertive enough and Kawhi Leonard came up lame. Ridge continued to dominate with crazy efficiency, but it wasn’t enough against a Thunder team that appeared annoyed by talk that this series was already in the bag after a lifeless game one performance.
Now the Spurs know the Thunder are here to play. Ideally, that wakes the rest of them up and gets the league’s best defensive player (Leonard) back into the right state of mind. It can’t just be Leonard defending Kevin Durant and Ridge going off again, though. That’s not how these Spurs won 67 games and held opponents to 92.9 points per game on a nightly basis.
Instead, it needs to be a full team effort. Duncan needs to get more involved down low, Ridge needs to keep bringing the offense, Leonard needs to step up and Parker can’t just be another guy. Everyone needs to play their part to take OKC back down a peg and make sure this series doesn’t go from interesting to scary.
|5/2/16||VS Thunder||Lost 98-97|
|4/30/16||VS Thunder||Win 124-92|
|4/24/16||at Grizzlies||Win 116-95|
|4/22/16||at Grizzlies||Win 96-87|
|4/19/16||VS Grizzlies||Win 94-68|
Oklahoma City Thunder Team Preview
The Thunder got away with one in game two. There was some sketchy officiating and it’s very arguable that the Spurs should have had an extra chance to put the game away late. They did end up having a shot, though, and didn’t make it happen. We also can’t take away from OKC that they defended a lot better than in game one and also ran a very efficient offense in an extremely hostile environment against a very good defense.
But the Thunder are still who we thought they were. They came out with an extra fire after being housed in game one and though everything broke exactly their way, they still only won by one point. San Antonio blew it by not offering LaMarcus Aldridge any support and Kawhi Leonard didn’t really show up on either end.
It’s possible this is a sign of the times for San Antonio, that guys like Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and even Manu Ginobili couldn’t dig deep and get the job done on their own court. Or maybe OKC just showed up in a game the Spurs probably thought they’d have in the bag.
- PG: Russell Westbrook
- SG: Andre Roberson
- SF: Kevin Durant
- PF: Serge Ibaka
- C: Steven Adams
Credit is deserved for OKC, though. When saying they are who we thought they were, we need to acknowledge an elite offense that consistently averaged the second most points per game on the year – only behind the Dubs. That was a problem for the Spurs in game two, and it’s very possible it could be an issue again in this series – possibly even Friday night in game three.
If OKC is going to have a real shot in this series, it probably has to be. Stealing a win in San Antonio was absolutely huge, both for the Thunder’s psyche and their chances of forcing a game seven or even shocking with a series upset. That momentum probably won’t survive if San Antonio turns around and takes back the home court edge with a win tonight, however. That means big games out of Westbrook and KD, while OKC’s defense is going to need to find a way to stifle the Spurs for a second game in a row.
|5/2/16||at Spurs||Win 98-97|
|4/30/16||at Spurs||Lost 124-92|
|4/25/16||VS Mavs||Win 118-104|
|4/23/16||at Mavs||Win 119-108|
|4/21/16||at Mavs||Win 131-102|
Spurs vs. Thunder Preview
This series is pretty simple. The Spurs have the defense to shut down OKC and the Thunder have the offense to thwart San Antonio’s defensive hold. Defense tends to win out in that battle, especially when you consider that the Thunder don’t have much reliable offense beyond their top two studs – Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
|5/2/16||Thunder 98, Spurs 97|
|4/30/16||Spurs 124, Thunder 92|
|4/12/16||Spurs 102, Thunder 98 (OT)|
|3/26/16||Thunder 111, Spurs 92|
|3/12/16||Spurs 93, Thunder 85|
Game two turned into a defensive battle, as the Spurs yet again held a playoff opponent in check and below 100 points for the sixth time this year. Of course, OKC’s defense was better than in game one, and more importantly, most Spurs outside of Aldridge simply didn’t show up.
San Antonio shot just 42% from the floor and 26% from deep, with no one other than Aldridge topping even 14 points. San Antonio provided just three players scoring in double figures and even weren’t necessarily themselves on the other end, losing the rebounding battle and allowing OKC to shoot 48% from the field.
|Win/Loss||67-15 (27-14 away)||55-27 (32-9 at home)|
None of that was good, but in the grand scheme of things, it also was a bit of an aberration. San Antonio’s offense is more balanced and spread out that that. They weren’t hitting shots and arguably took too many outside jumpers in what ended up being a very tight game. Their shaky offense translated to the other end, which is not like the Spurs – especially at home.
In game three, OKC could very well come in with all of the momentum. They have two stars to lean on and after stealing a huge road win, they’re going to come in confident. That’s not a situation the Spurs will back down from, but in order to avoid a surprise 2-1 hole, it’s certainly one they need to acknowledge and respect.
Recommended Game 3 Bet
How do we bet against the Spurs here? To do so, we need to ignore their stout road record, their elite defense and the fact that it’s incredibly unlikely Kawhi Leonard is that absent again in the playoffs. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are serious problems for even San Antonio’s defense, but there isn’t much to fear outside of them. Even on the road, the Spurs know they can house this team or at least limit them enough on offense to edge them out.
The constant force for the Spurs continues to be their elite defense. No one has scored 100 points on them yet in these playoffs and when they’re clicking, it’s tough to get even 90 on them. In what is virtually a pick’em, you need to go with the best team in a momentum-shifting game three. OKC is at home, has a chip on their shoulder and can explode offensively, but the Spurs are going to want to make up for a weak game two, as well as getting burned by the refs. We can probably assume game three will be fairly tight, but in the end the Spurs are likely to take back control of the series.
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