Monday night, the Spurs will face the Oklahoma City Thunder in Oklahoma in a rematch of last year's Western Conference Finals. OKC and San Antonio are the two top teams in the West and Monday night's battle should be entertaining.
This will be the second time these two teams meet this season. The Spurs won the first matchup by two points in the second game of the season. Since then, OKC's newest player has had time to adjust to his new surroundings. Kevin Martin is averaging an efficient 16 ppg in 30 mpg shooting 46.8% from beyond the arc.
At this point, it seems that OKC is doing just fine without James Harden in their lineup. The Thunder come into Monday night's game with an impressive record of 19-4. While the Thunder have nicely adjusted to their new sixth man, the Spurs will be without theirs for the foreseeable future. Saturday night in Boston, Manu Ginobili ran into a Chris Wilcox screen and bruised his thigh. Without the assistance of Ginobili, the Spurs will need to play a complete game if they hope to escape Oklahoma City with the victory.
The Thunder and Spurs enter the game as the first and second highest scoring teams in the league. OKC has tremendous one on one players in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The Spurs score their points by moving the ball and are currently number one in the league in assists. Both teams are capable of scoring points in bunches, but this game will be decided by defense. If the Spurs can slow Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, San Antonio will have a great chance at winning.
Unfortunately, the Spurs are still without their two best Durant defenders. Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson are still out with injuries. It will be interesting to see how Popovich chooses to defend Durant. Without three of his forwards, Popovich will be forced to use some unorthodox lineups.
If the Spurs are to pull out the victory, it will undoubtedly be due to great performances by Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. Both players have been on a tear recently, but leading the shorthanded Spurs to victory against the Thunder is a lot to ask for. They will need help from their teammates. Gary Neal and Danny Green will have to step up their play in the absence of Manu, Kawhi and Stephen Jackson.
Honestly, this is going to be an extremely difficult game for the Spurs. Without three of their best forwards, the shorthanded Spurs will need a lot of things to go perfectly in order to escape with a win. The Spurs will need to play a full 48 minute game. Any lapse by the Silver and Black may put this game out of reach. The Spurs will need to take care of the ball and keep OKC's fast break opportunities at a minimum. Basically, the shorthanded Spurs will need to play extremely well to keep this game competitive.
Tony Parker will need to win his matchup against Russell Westbrook to give the Spurs a chance. Tony Parker has been brilliant as of late and will hope to continue his superb play Monday night. It'd be a nice time for the Frenchman to record his second triple-double of his career.
Thunder perspective can be found here: Welcome to Loud City
Prediction: Spurs by 7.
As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and NBA league pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area. Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate.