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Game 2 Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

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After drawing first blood in a dominant Game 1 win, the Spurs will seek an encore performance against a Thunder team needing to approach tonight with a stronger gameplan and resolve.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
Date: 5/02/16, Time: 8:30 PM Spurs Time
TV: TNT - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI

The first and last plays of the first half in Game 1 -- Kawhi Leonard's Statue of Liberty dunk and Kyle Anderson swatting away Russell Westbrook at the rim -- provided some poetic bookends to the Spurs' emphatic series-opening 24 minutes. They also helped explain how the Spurs blitzed the third-seeded Thunder, 124-92, in a game most of us thought would be, well, closer.

Offensively, the path to the hoop appeared wide enough for San Antonio to fit a '97 Chevy Tahoe through. Instead it was Kawhi cruising through for an easy lay-in, or Tony Parker exploiting poor pick-and-roll D for a dump-off to Tim or LaMarcus. And when OKC overplayed the first option, the Spurs took full advantage, hitting open look after open look. Aldridge and Leonard were dominant, and if Danny Green complements his defensive contributions with 18 points on 5-of-6 shooting from deep, this team is going to be very hard to beat.

The Spurs didn't extend the same courtesy to their guests. Whether curling around screens or attacking off the dribble, Durant and Westbrook struggled to get any separation. Westbrook, frustrated early and often, appeared hell-bent on not settling for his 15-foot stop-on-a-dime pull-up jumper, opting instead to try and weave around defenders and get into the paint. When he did he was usually met by a second defender, timing his help perfectly for a block or contest.

So where did the Thunder go wrong, and where do they go from here?

There will naturally be some regressing to the mean for both teams. The Thunder's stars will get into a rhythm eventually, and San Antonio can't count on another 18-of-23 shooting night from LaMarcus, with shots like this dropping:

No, we can't expect near-perfection the likes of what we saw in Game 1 (although LMA only shot a mortal 50% on desperation left-handed flings), but the win may have provided enough of a blueprint for success that I think Billy Donovan will need to consider some major adjustments to make this a competitive series.

It'll have to start on the defensive end, with a combination of mindset and tactics. Ibaka appeared helpless matched up against Aldridge's bag of tricks, and Steven Adams didn't fare much better. We'll see early whether Donovan opts to send a second defender at him and if the Thunder are prepared to make the right rotations.

There was also the execution against the Spurs' PnR, which left OKC defenders consistently out of position. Some breakdowns came from listless individual efforts, but overall the Thunder's effort and communication just seemed poor. Defenders weren't fighting through screens or hedging like they should've, and that provided enough daylight for San Antonio to make them pay.

Offensively, some tweaks in their rotations might help. I'm not sure what Nick Collison brings to the team that merits him being on the floor for 19 minutes, or why it wasn't worth giving Anthony Morrow more than five. Either way, Westbrook and Durant will need to execute better, but having better players around them who unclog the painted area will help. Are they willing to try going small, with KD at the four?

Ultimately the Spurs will want to come into tonight with a similar gameplan as Saturday's, but they'll also need to prepare for OKC to play more to its strengths. The Thunder need to run when they can and can't allow San Antonio's Spartan defense to settle in the half court every time down. We saw Memphis have a bit more luck when players attacked right off the catch, and Donovan has two stars who excel in those situations.

Normally Game 3s dictate whether or not a series will swing -- and in whose direction -- but if an Oklahoma City team with everything to lose doesn't come out tonight with some adjustments and the sense of urgency they need, they might already be done.

Key to winning: Asking for more of the same across the board is a bit of a cop-out, so I'll go with the Spurs' controlling the tempo against a team that will likely look to introduce a bit more chaos in Game 2. That includes packing the paint until forced to do otherwise and limiting turnovers and opportunities for OKC to run.

vs

San Antonio Spurs

(Playoffs record: 5-0)

Oklahoma City Thunder

(Playoffs record: 4-2)

May 2, 2016

AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

8:30 PM CDT

TV: TNT

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 11.

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

As always Tony must dominate Fisher.

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