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Game 6 Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder

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As they head into their first elimination game of the postseason, against an opponent brimming with confidence, the Spurs can either 'make it happen' or go home.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio SpursOklahoma City Thunder

Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City Thunder
Date: 5/12/16, Time: 7:30 PM Spurs Time
TV: ESPN - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI

Look elsewhere for Tim Duncan or Manu Ginobili eulogies and musings on the dwindling final hour of the Big Three; you won't find either here. For that matter, you're also in the wrong place for lamentations of the Thunder's edges in youth and athleticism or for complaints of any officiating malfeasance that prevented another game from running its natural course.

For any excuse we can make about the Durant/Westbrook tandem, we can point to the Leonard/Aldridge duo narrowly outscoring them so far this series. We can whine about the calls and the no-calls but should also look at how close Games 2 and 5 were and how a +1 in the Luck stat can swing that tonight.

We can dwell on the numbers citing Extraneous G's track record facing elimination the road (pretty bad) or how strong the Thunder's is when up 3-2 (pretty good). But we can also acknowledge the Spurs have already won there once and recall how a team in a similar situation came back to win two games against a worthy opponent in the first round of the playoffs last year.

This a preview on a Spurs blog -- and it will be treated with the requisite Pollyannaism -- but it's mostly a realistic look at a series that's been decided thus far by a razor-thin margin and one that has at least another 48 chaotic minutes of basketball to go.

The Thunder's advantage down low has been considerable. Per Fox Sports, they've grabbed 47.1 percent of their own missed shots in the last four 4th quarters, a huge spike from their already-league-leading 31.1 clip from the regular season. Whether through personnel changes or sheer force of will, the Spurs can't allow that if they expect to see Game 7.

More surprising has been the consistent contributions coming from the OKC bench, The Thunder reserves outscored San Antonio's by just one -- 33-32 -- in Game 4, but they made a bigger difference in Game 5, with a 20-11 edge. If we were to rank the most impactful players in the series up to this point, I'm not sure where the first Spur reserve would sit, or even who that player would be.

Those last two points could almost inspire a long-form piece on why I want to see Big Bobi out there against the the Thunder's twin-tower lineup. I'm aware the big man's not the quickest guy guarding the pick and roll, but I'd still love to see him in with Kawhi, Danny, Patty and either Tim or LaMarcus, especially if OKC goes big early in the game.

There's the possibility that Aldridge's finger has gotten worse. The dip in his shooting numbers over the last few games would back that. If that's the case, then maybe he shouldn't be taking 21 shots tonight, but I don't want him getting too sheepish either. He's still a great roll man and a net-positive on the floor that can make a difference on both ends.

The other shooters have got to shoot. The hoop should be appearing a bit larger for Danny Green after Game 5 and, if he's in the game, Patty Mills has to fire away, too. Four quarters of aggressiveness from Kawhi would also be huge.

The best Game 6 effort will be one where they try to match OKC's intensity without reflecting their style of play. Yes, this year's Spurs are more iso-heavy and some of their playmakers are long in the tooth, but that can't prevent them from moving the ball and ensuring they get the best look possible. Billy Donovan's done a great job of having his players deny the first option on most possessions, but the onus falls on Gregg Popovich to adjust and not fall into a stagnant game.

Whatever the Spurs' fate may be, it's vitality and urgency they'll need tonight -- less possessions waiting for the whistle that may or may not come and more like this:

Stagnation might be the real enemy, as old muscles and weary minds wear down at the tail end of round number two. I doubt an emotive catalyst is needed with this group of guys, but I'll throw the below out into the aether anyway. Go Spurs go.

Key to winning:

Get miffed.

Get angry.

Get the series back to San Antonio.

vs

San Antonio Spurs

(Playoffs record: 6-3)

Oklahoma City Thunder

(Playoffs record: 7-3)

May 12, 2016

Chesapeake Energy Arena,  Oklahoma City, OK

7:30 PM CDT

TV: ESPN

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 5.

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

As always Tony must dominate Fisher.

As always, PtR's Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. But if you're not able to log in here, you can try the Fanvana app which helps connect sports fans and was created by a fellow Spurs fan. Check out the free app on iOS or Android to discover other Spurs fans and join the live chatter for tonight's game. You can follow PtR's tweet stream directly on Fanvana as the game unfolds.