- PG: Tony Parker
- SG: Danny Green
- SF: Kawhi Leonard
- PF: LaMarcus Aldridge
- C: Tim Duncan
Pick & Preview of Game 6 of San Antonio Spurs vs OKC Thunder
What was supposed to be an easy round two win for the San Antonio Spurs quickly turned into a bitter death match for the right to advance to the Western Conference Finals. Even once the Oklahoma City Thunder twice displayed the goods to take down the Spurs, however, few probably truly feared them.
Now they just might. OKC delivered a huge blow by shocking the Spurs in San Antonio in game five, taking a commanding 3-2 series lead and potentially setting up a huge game six win in their own backyard.
Suddenly the Spurs are narrow favorites and in a dangerous position – one they’re not overly used to. Can the Thunder actually fight off logic and move on to face the Golden State Warriors, or will the Spurs flex their muscle and give us the first full seven game series of the second round of the 2016 NBA playoffs? We find out on Thursday night when the Spurs travel to Chesapeake Energy Arena to take on the Thunder.
San Antonio Spurs Team Preview
The Spurs have not been the team we thought they were. They raced through the 2015-16 NBA season in such a fashion that many felt they may actually have been better than the defending champion Warriors.
They boasted the best scoring defense in the league, the game’s top lock down defender, a methodical ball-sharing offense and a new star in LaMarcus Aldridge. After sweeping the Memphis Grizzlies in round one and blowing out the Thunder in game one of this series, they looked every bit the championship contender many experts pegged them to be this past summer.
Despite their elite overall record and tying the record for home wins in a regular season, they’ve faltered in their second round series against the Thunder, seemingly ill prepared for surprise adjustments by the Thunder.
OKC looked like a vastly inferior opponent after the Spurs routed them in game one, but ever since have looked like the aggressor. Perhaps the Spurs have gotten too one-dimensional with having either Kawhi Leonard or LaMarcus Aldridge attack them offensively. Maybe Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili just don’t have enough collective gas in the tank to push them beyond round two anymore. Or maybe, just maybe, they merely under-estimated a very good OKC squad.
|5/10/16||VS Thunder||Lost 95-91|
|5/8/16||at Thunder||Lost 111-97|
|5/6/16||at Thunder||Win 100-96|
|5/2/16||VS Thunder||Lost 98-97|
|4/30/16||VS Thunder||Win 124-92|
Oklahoma City Thunder Team Preview
The Oklahoma City Thunder came into this round two series looking like a team with two superstars and little else. If they wanted to win, they’d have to score 110+ points per game and if they didn’t deliver on an off night, they’d get housed like they did in game one.
A team that could make adjustments on the fly, pull off plays in the clutch and *gasp* actually defend – they were not.
Except that’s precisely the team that showed up in game two to surprise the Spurs in San Antonio, and that team with gusto and true grit has remained, ever since. They key change continues to be head coach Billy Donovan’s commitment to big man Enes Kanter to close game four, and that move worked yet again in game five. In addition, OKC backed off of using rookie guard Cameron Payne off the bench and overall as a team has upped their level of play on the defensive end.
- PG: Russell Westbrook
- SG: Andre Roberson
- SF: Kevin Durant
- PF: Serge Ibaka
- C: Steven Adams
As impressive as OKC has been however, it’s on the Spurs for not finding a way to get more out of their aged trio, as well as not figuring out how to combat Kanter’s sudden spike in defensive aptitude.
There is still time for the Spurs to figure things out on both ends, but for the past two games, they’ve been uncharacteristically out-smarted. Suddenly pumping the brakes and getting the best of an OKC team that seems to have located their kryptonite could be awfully difficult on the road in game six.
|5/10/16||at Spurs||Win 95-91|
|5/8/16||VS Spurs||Win 111-97|
|5/6/16||VS Spurs||Lost 100-96|
|5/2/16||at Spurs||Win 98-97|
|4/30/16||at Spurs||Lost 124-92|
Spurs vs. Thunder Preview
As we pointed to going into game five, we needed two things to happen to believe in the Spurs. Tim Duncan needed to show us he could have a real impact on this series and the Spurs had to find a way to combat the towering duo of Enes Kanter and Steve Adams. Duncan played more, but was mostly ineffective and Kanter was once again a problem, both on the boards (13 rebounds) and helping stifle LaMarcus Aldridge (15 missed shots).
Throw in San Antonio running more iso situations for Kawhi Leonard, and they once again got out of rhythm enough for OKC to steal a second game in San Antonio.
|5/10/16||Thunder 95, Spurs 91|
|5/8/16||Thunder 111, Spurs 97|
|5/6/16||Spurs 100, Thunder 96|
|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|
All of this is massive for two huge reasons: OKC is actually playing good defense on a consistent basis and they went in and doubled the amount of road games the Spurs had allowed on the entire year.
The Thunder not only pack an elite scoring punch via Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but their defense has been very impressive and the Spurs still don’t have an answer for Kanter working Ridge. If that continues to happen, there isn’t much reason to think the Spurs will automatically force a game seven on merit alone.
|Win/Loss||67-15 (27-14 away)||55-27 (32-9 at home)|
Recommended Game 6 Bet
It’d be nice to sit back, relax and confidently say that the Spurs are too seasoned, too well coached and simply too good to let the Thunder take them out in six games. But that may not be the reality. Instead, the Spurs have not looked like themselves for a good portion of this series, Tim Duncan has been largely absent and some really bad reffing has the writing on the wall.
Maybe this is more about Kevin Durant being defiant in one last epic run before he leaves OKC for good. Maybe it’s about the Spurs not being as dominant as we made them out to be. Either way, the harsh reality is the last two playoff matchups between these two teams ended in six games and the Spurs are pretty woeful (2-10) in elimination playoff games when down under Gregg Popovich. It could obviously go the other way and we could get a seventh game, but something tells me the Thunder are going to deliver the death blow at home in game six.
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