San Antonio Spurs (28-13, 11-9 road) vs. OKC Thunder (33-10, 18-3 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 109.3 (2nd), Spurs– 108.4 (4th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 102.6 (12th), Spurs – 103.9 (14th)
Pace: Thunder – 93.3 (4th), Spurs – 91.8 (13th)
View from the enemy: 48 Minutes of Hell
The Thunder are well past measuring bar games. They’re good. We know this. It’s not going to take a win over the Spurs to further illustrate that. But here’s what tonight’s game means: It means the Thunder will have a 2-1 season series lead on the Spurs and it’ll put them up five over them for the top seed. Lose, and things tighten a bit and what was once taken for granted a bit, that No. 1 Western seed could be up for grabs.
Hard to imagine OKC dropping a second straight game at home, but this one will be tough. It’s a big game and you’d expect the Thunder to show up and be ready.
San Antonio coming in: The Spurs last played Wednesday beating the Magic. They were actually in OKC last night, while the Thunder were playing in Denver.
Three Big Things
1. Drive, and kick. The Spurs obliterated the Thunder in the pick-and-roll in San Antonio the last time they played. If there wasn’t a lane to the basket, there was an open shooter standing on the perimeter. The Thunder have to help, rotate and recover better and challenge shooters. Having Thabo back, who is probably OKC’s best perimeter defender, should help. But it’s about the big man playing the roll man better. I’d expect OKC to go small quite a bit with Nick Collison and Serge Ibaka getting minutes at the 5.
2. Jar Jar Parker. He exploded for 42 in the last meeting and seemed to make everything he put up. He’s playing incredible basketball and unless Russell Westbrook is keyed in on getting past that screener and cutting off Parker at the elbows, he could be a problem again. When Parker has his jumper falling, he’s as difficult a guard there is in the league.
3. Manu. This is the first time the Thunder have had to deal with Ginobili this season. He seems to always come up with big steals, shots and plays against OKC so you can be sure his name has been circled in tonight’s scouting report.
Tip at 8:30 CT. Go Top Seed.