San Antonio Spurs (41-27, 16-17 road) vs. OKC Thunder (42-26, 22-11 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 107.1 (16th), Spurs – 110.2 (8th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 103.6 (7th), Spurs – 104.9 (10th)
Pace: Thunder – 93.0 (14th), Spurs – 91.5 (24th)
View from the enemy: 48 Minutes of Hell
For us fans, it’s a good thing we don’t have to stew and think about the abortion of a game that was played yesterday in Indiana. And I’m sure the players feel exactly the same way. Wipe the brain clean and start anew at home tonight. The problem though is, tonight’s game is a very big one against the San Antonio Spurs.
Fortunately for the Thunder, the Spurs come in after playing a brutal overtime game against Atlanta last night. So the veteran Spurs might be a little tired after that one. Which would be nice, because I don’t know if the Thunder has needed a bounce back win so badly yet this season. So whatever edge they may gain, I’m all for.
San Antonio coming in: As mentioned, the Spurs lost in overtime last night in Atlanta and have lost two of three. However, the Spurs have won eight of their last 10. However again, they are just 16-17 on the road.
Tony Parker absolutely killed the Thunder the last time these two teams met in OKC (28 points, eight assists), so him not playing is met with a sigh of relief from Thunder fans. The bummer though, is that his replacement, George Hill, is more than capable of playing an extremely good game. He’s a good defender, he’s a good passer and he can shoot. Russell Westbrook, if he’s not still “sick”, will certainly have his hands full. And if the Thunder is to win this one, Westbrook is going to need to outplay Hill.
Richard Jeffersonwill match up with Kevin Durant, which is good because Jefferson shouldn’t be able to guard Durant that well (KD has scored 25, 35 and 21 in three games against SA). Yes, I remember KD only scoring 21 against the Spurs last time, but I don’t forsee that happening again, especially with the way Durant played yesterday in Indiana. The Spurs however, are an extremely smart defensive team and will definitely have a good gameplan for Durant though.
Inside will be key as obviously the Spurs have Tim Duncan and Oklahoma City does not. So much of their game hinges on Duncan inside. When he’s doing his thing on the block, it opens up the outside shot for Matt Bonner, Jefferson, Hill and Roger Mason Jr. And then it also frees Manu Ginobili to drive and slash and kick out. So Jeff Green will need to bring a strong game, as well as Nick Collison and Serge Ibaka off the bench. And I’d expect OKC needed some solid scoring from either Eric Maynor or Kyle Weaver too.
Tonight begins the start of a four-game homestand, and a very important one at that. Upcoming is tonight’s game against the Spurs, Wednesday against the Rockets, Friday against the Lakers and wrapping up with Portland Sunday night. In my mind, 3-1 keeps the Thunder in the hunt for fourth, 2-2 assures us of a playoff spot, 1-3 makes me think eighth might be in our future and 0-4 makes me really, REALLY worry. But it all starts tonight with San Antonio, a team it would be nice to split the season series with and gain a little distance from as well. And it would just be a cherry on top if KD could dunk on Manu Ginobili’s face. That would make me happy.
Tip at 7:00 CDT. Go Big Game.