Spurs (13-1, 6-1 road) vs. Thunder (9-3, 6-0 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 106.0 (10th), Spurs – 107.6 (6th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 101.2 (7th), Spurs – 94.9 (2nd)
Pace: Thunder – 98.6 (6th), Spurs – 95.0 (13th)
This game is a big one for a lot of reasons, but did you know it’s for the belt? Ohmygod, that’s Kevin Durant’s music…
But it’s the Spurs, so it’s not just big, but it’s a game that everyone will use to measure something, whatever it may be. A win and the Thunder snap their 11-game win streak and hand them only their second loss, but it’s only November and things don’t matter much now because the Spurs supposedly don’t care. A loss, and the Thunder failed to match the Spur standard and are a step below.
More than anything though, it’s about playing well against a good team and showing growth in necessary areas. That’s the thing about playing good teams — it just gives you a bigger chance to test out things. You can work on stuff against the Jazz and it succeed simply by default. You’ve got to execute the right way and build good habits against the good teams, like the Spurs.
San Antonio coming in: Won on Monday against the Pelicans
Three Big Things
1. Tony Parker. He’s the head of the snake, the engine that makes it all run. Russell Westbrook will start on him, but Scott Brooks says Thabo Sefolosha will see time on him as well. Slow him down, make getting to his spots difficult and keep him out of the paint and you make a whole lot of things more challenging for the Spurs.
2. Shooters. Close out on them. The Spurs have guys everywhere that will punish you on drive and kick action and it seems as if one guys makes a few, then they all start making a few. The Thunder have usually done a nice job defending the perimeter against the Spurs, but this season shell defense has been inconsistent. Big test tonight.
3. Pace. The Spurs like to play fast, but the Thunder do better with a hectic, frantic kind of pace. Get things a little helter skelter, a little out of control and muddy up the game. Not in terms of turnovers and playing loose with the ball, but more improvisation often does well against the Spurs, because they’re so fundamental defensively.
Tip at 7:00 CT. Go Thanksgiving.