Spurs (11-6, 3-5 road) vs. Thunder (10-8, 6-3 home)
The Thunder have been here once before this postseason. But that situation was a lot different. It’s kind of a weird thing. Being down 3-2 playing Game 6 on the road almost seems better than down 3-2 playing Game 6 at home. Against Memphis, it was just win Game 6, then get back home to finish it off. Now, it’s win Game 6, and then you’re off to the place you’ve lost three games by an average of 26.6 points.
But the Thunder are backed into the ultimatum now. The “must-win” is real, and it’s either give yourself that chance in San Antonio, or start thinking about next season. The home court thing has been weird, but that’s no guarantee for the Thunder. If they play anything at all like they did in San Antonio, they’re in trouble, and this could end tonight.
In this type of game, you expect your big time players to play big time games. Kevin Durant doesn’t feel any added pressure, which is good. He shouldn’t. MVP or not, that doesn’t make you want to win any more than you already did. But it does increase your visibility, especially if you don’t perform. Durant can’t go down without a fight tonight. If the Spurs are ending his season, it has to be on his terms.
Five Big Things
1. Durant and Westbrook. They need to play well. Simple as that.
2. Turnovers. The Thunder created problems for the Spurs in Game 4, opening up up transition points solely off live ball turnovers. It’s not that you can expect 12 steals again, but just crank up that defensive pressure to try and create as many giveaways as possible. That gets the crowd going, and therefore, the opponent rattled.
3. Danny Green. At home, he’s got 51 points on 17-27 shooting, including 13-23 from 3. In OKC, he’s got 11 points on 4-16 shooting. The Thunder can’t let him get to feeling anything.
4. Ibaka. He didn’t have much impact whatsoever in Game 5. In Games 3 and 4, Ibaka was the difference on both ends of the floor. Running a lot of offense through him, while relying on him to erase opportunities in the paint. Here’s the thing though: The Spurs had just 40 points in the paint in Game 4, spacing out the floor and staying away from Ibaka. If they aren’t going to play two bigs, the Thunder have to find an adjustment to allow Ibaka to make his defensive impact.
5. Play hard. That seems to be the common denominator in wins versus losses. It sounds kind of ridiculous that you wouldn’t be able to play hard in the Western Conference finals consistently, but there are different levels of intensity. And the home teams have been able to find it. Desperation is a great equalizer.
Tip at 7:30 CT. Go One More.