The West leading Thunder arrive to the AT&T center to take on a tired Spurs ball club. While the Spurs have shown some life as of late (most notably starting with the Dallas game) they've often shot themselves in the foot at the beginning of the game by digging themselves into a huge hole. Hopefully this changes tonight against the Thunder.
The Thunder have been one of the league's best road teams this season, with 9 wins and 3 losses. It's appropriate then that they clash against the Spurs who currently have the best home record in the league with 12 wins and 1 loss. Who will prevail? Well at this point it's up to whichever starters show up to play. If I'm honest though, the Thunder are in the same boat as the Clippers, where they haven't played as many games as the rest of the league. They've played 21 games to the Spurs 24, and only have 4 back to backs so far (a gift from the NBA schedule gods) with Saturday being the tail end of their 5th. By contrast, the Spurs have played 8 back to backs and still hold the 3rd best record in the West.
In the first meeting between these two teams, the Spurs had just beaten Denver the night before and landed in OKC where the Thunder are sitting pretty at 8-1. That would be a tough trip for any team, not just the Spurs who suffer from severe SEGABABAnitis. This time, the tables are turned and the Thunder arrive after playing (what we hope) is a hard fought game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Keys to Winning the Game:
1. Leonard (hopefully he'll start) has to keep his hands up when guarding Durant.
2. Splitter has to dominate
3. Make Westbrook take ill-advised shots.
4. Good help defense. (did you know that the Thunder are currently sitting at 25th in assists per game? That means a lot of isolation basketball which the Spurs are renowned for stopping).
5. Rebounding. The Thunder are among the best in the league at rebounding the ball. We need to box them out
The Thunder have some of the most talent 1-8 in the league. I honestly have them pegged as the prime contender for the NBA crown this year. They have long frontcourt players who excel at defense, and a plethora of back-court players who can dominate any given night. The trick for them will be Westbrook not thinking he's player A and realizing he's Robin to Durant's batman.
With all that being said, I think that we pull this one out, on the strength of our 3-point shooting. With a lineup consisting of Bonner and Splitter, I can see the bench dominating just because Ibaka will have trouble fighting his desire to block every shot. Spurs by 5.
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.