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Game 3 Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder

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The Thunder stole homecourt advantage from San Antonio in Game 2. Can the Spurs regain it (and their shooting stroke) tonight in OKC?

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio SpursOklahoma City Thunder

Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
Date: 5/06/16, Time: 8:30 PM Spurs Time

Dispassionately speaking, every basketball possession has more or less equal potential to impact the final result. Two points in the first half are weighted just as much as two in the second.

But in the fever of fandom some moments are taken on the chin better than others. Which is why many of us will immediately turn to the last 13 chaotic seconds of Game 2 when pondering San Antonio's one-point loss on Monday. Not the multitude of missed shots at the rim. Or, for that matter, the comedy of errors that was the first seven minutes of the game. One possession writer Nate Duncan picked on in his post-game podcast was Pop's decision to close out the first half with Kyle Anderson guarding Kevin Durant, one that ended in Durant blowing by KA to set up an easy Thunder lay-in.

There's some catharsis in realizing that San Antonio's undoing took on multiple forms, but the question then turns to whether we're in for a repeat performance tonight, especially with the team's lone bright spot from Game 2 -- LaMarcus Aldridge's incredible play -- not appearing to be sustainable.

Eli Horowitz wrote a great piece on the Spurs' abandoning their bread and butter from Game 1 in favor of more isolation basketball. Dion Waiters voiced his support for that change in strategy and dared San Antonio to attempt to beat them with LaMarcus alone. Does that mean we'll see the PnR featured more in the Spurs offense in Game 3?

Either way, a more lively showing from Kawhi Leonard will help. The DPOY appeared to be a step slower than usual and was less aggressive with the ball in his hands. Hopefully there's no greater health concern with him and the extra rest this week is all he needs to get back to his two-way brilliance.

The Thunder will head into tonight feeling they can improve upon the 98 points they put up in Game 2 by continuing to push the pace when they can and take care of the ball better than the 18 TOs they gave up. They'll also likely stick with what worked in their half-court offense, namely that high pick-and-roll involving Steven Adams, which was the single most destructive force for OKC in Game 2.

Adams was excellent at sealing off his man before diving to the hoop, and the Thunder did a good job of making sure Tony Parker, usually guarding Andre Roberson in the corner, was the most viable weakside help defender. Combine that with Adams' defense and 17 boards and he was perhaps the most important OKC player in that game. We'll see what role Tim Duncan has in checking him in Game 3, or if Pop leans on another big more.

Between that assignment for Tim, Tony orchestrating the PnR and 38-year-old Manu as one of the team's most reliable playmakers, the Big Three come into Game 3 with a chance to make a huge impact. I especially like the odds for tonight to be a throwback Manu game, given the perimeter defenders on the OKC bench and how well Gino plays with three or more days' rest.

Keys to winning: Keep letting 'em fly. Those shots around the rim will fall eventually, and there will be plenty of open looks again in Game 3. I still think the Spurs are the better team in this matchup and, if they revert to the style and tone they brought in Game 1, they should be able to regain the series edge.


San Antonio Spurs

(Playoffs record: 5-1)

Oklahoma City Thunder

(Playoffs record: 5-2)

May 6, 2016

Chesapeake Enegy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK

8:30 PM CDT



Tony Parker


Russell Westbrook

Danny Green


Andre Roberson

Kawhi Leonard


Kevin Durant

LaMarcus Aldridge


Serge Ibaka

Tim Duncan


Steven Adams

Game prediction: Spurs by 6.

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.