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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder

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With the 2-seed locked up, the Spurs will roll a skeleton crew into Oklahoma City to face triple-double enthusiast Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. Can the Good Guys still play the part of spoiler and end OKC's six-game win streak?

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs @ Oklahoma City Thunder

Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
March 26, 2016, 7:00 p.m. Spurs Time
TV: NBA TV Radio: WOAI 1200AM

Until 1:20 pm KST (11:20 pm Spurs Time) there'd been no announcement of who was suiting up (or wasn't) for tonight's penultimate regular season meeting between the Spurs and Thunder. Meanwhile I was sitting at home, basking in the afterglow of another preview done and dusted, poised to schedule it and head off to watch the latest superhero epic at my local picture house. And then---

Committed to making the showtime and salvaging some relevant points, I reviewed how I'd kicked my draft off:

On Bolo Night at the AT&T Center, the Spurs sat Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Boris Diaw and Patty Mills but still eked out a win against the depleted-but-frisky Memphis Grizzlies, grabbing their 61st win of the season and, most importantly, locking up homecourt advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs. Now what?

Still valid! I might yet catch the second act, I thought, if only I could twist a few more paragraphs around and CTRL-P Kyle Anderson's name over Kawhi's. No one would bother to question if I added DPOY to Slow-Mo's resume, right?

The first 45 minutes are all in the trailers anyway.

The Thunder are whirring at a distant third place in the Western Conference picture, winners of six straight and aspiring third wheels to the Spurs' and Warriors' date with destiny. The Clippers' recent struggles have given OKC a bigger cushion between them and the 4-seed, but we can still expect the home team to come out with more to prove -- especially after how well San Antonio played their two superhuman costars in their last meeting, a 93-85 Spurs win.

Another win. The Spurs can't travel back in time (yet) to alter those results and they can't touch that brilliantly subtle allusion to the movie everyone's talking about. Sure, Durant and Westbrook might have an easier night than previously imagined, but I still think we're setting the scene nicely.

And what's this? Hedging against the Spurs and suggesting players might sit? I clearly possess the gift of keen foresight.

The possibility of Tim and/or Tony -- who, along with Aldridge, played between 31 and 33 minutes against Memphis -- sitting tonight might not hurt San Antonio offensively as much as it alters how they match up on the other end: Parker was part of a solid joint effort in locking down Russell Westbrook a few weeks ago, and Tim's presence in the paint against the Thunder bigs is always important. Steven Adams' rim-running against David West could be problematic, and Enes Kanter, for all his defensive shortcomings, is a handful on the offensive glass.

As of this writing, it sounds like everyone made the flight to OKC, but it wouldn't be too surprising to see one of the Big Three in street clothes. This could also just be a game that Pop lets play out like any other through the first three periods and then, if a win looks out of reach, sits his stars.

OK, some light editing is needed, but it's mostly just seasoning. Bells and whistles. The structure is there, as is some sharp analysis. The important thing is I've taken this game seriously and written a preview that I'm happy with -- Gotham be damned.

The movie's mostly over now, but I still have time to catch any potential after-credits scene. That's the closest thing to closure these tent-pole productions offer these days, anyway. Not nearly enough attention paid to character development -- that's what I think.

Speaking of characters, who'd I put for my matchup to watch?

Matchup to watch: He's no Paul George, but Kawhi Leonard's been a thorn in Kevin Durant's side this year, holding the former MVP to 17-of-44 shooting while averaging 29 points, 7.5 boards, 3 steals and 1.5 blocks in two games.

Pretty good for a system player!

Oh, where's a picture of an angry Russell Westbrook to express my ire?

These developments have forced me to reevaluate my article (and my day). But have they also changed my previously-ironclad forecast?

I'm hedging towards an L coming from some combination of a rest game for San Antonio and hot night for OKC (Serge Ibaka surely has one good game against Aldridge in him, right?), but I wouldn't let either worry me too much.

Game prediction: Thunder by 7.

You betcha!

San Antonio Spurs: 61-11

Oklahoma City Thunder: 50-22

March 26, 2016

Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK

7:00 pm, CDT

TV: NBA TV

Starters

Tony Parker

PG

Russell Westbrook

Danny Green

SG

Andre Roberson

Kawhi Leonard

SF

Kevin Durant

LaMarcus Aldridge

PF

Serge Ibaka

Tim Duncan

C

Steven Adams

Game prediction: Spurs by 40.

For the Thunder fans' perspective, visit Welcome to Loud City.

As always Tony must dominate Fisher.