Oh, my gosh, these guys again! What a nemesis. Just when you thought that Kevin Durant vacating the premises would turn the Thunder into an intermittent crackle, Russell Westbrook averages a triple-double and brings home the MVP. Now Paul George jumps on board bringing Carmelo Anthony with him. They just won’t quit!
In the two previous meetings this season, the Spurs have played exceptionally well. Last November, the Spurs were down by 23 points before Pau Gasol keyed a Spurs run that closed the gap and eventually led to a W. Afterward, Pop disclosed the now infamous strategy that led to the win:
“It was a fine win. The guys really dug deep, (kept) pounding the rock, kept a great attitude, just kept their minds on playing basic basketball and things turned their way. But the effort was great, we played a lot smarter in the second half, took care of the ball, and just showed a lot of courage. A lot of good performances by a lot of guys, and overall a great team win.”- Gregg Popovich
The Spurs did lose the second meeting, but let’s be honest- there was like 2⁄3 of the Spurs available and many of those who played were still wet behind the ears. They lost by 3 points, but Dejounte Murray led the team in points, assists, and rebounds pulling in a double-double on a game that should have been a “gimme” for Billy Donovan’s crew.
“Without LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili, or Rudy Gay, a depleted Spurs squad showed real grit.” -Ben Wiese
Indeed, this is what missing players looked like before we knew there would be a season of missing players. As the stakes are high this time of year, expect a knock-down, drag-out kind of a game. Playing on the Thunder’s home court may seem a disadvantage to the untrained eye, but Spurs fans will always remember Game 6 of the 2014 Western Conference Finals where Charles Barkley predicted a Game 7 because there was no way the Spurs were stealing one from OKC on their turf.
San Antonio Spurs (37-28) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (38-29)
March 10, 2018 | 7:30 pm CDT
Watch: ABC; Listen: 1200 AM WOAI
Spurs injuries: Kawhi Leonard (return from injury management - out), Pau Gasol (right AC sprain- questionable)
Thunder injuries: Andre Roberson (ruptured patellar tendon- out for season), Terrence Ferguson (concussion protocol)
The last time the Spurs were in this neck of the woods, they almost upset the Thunder, and that was with a far more depleted group than they’ll have tonight. In the last 10 games, the Thunder have beat the teams with worse records and lost to the teams with better records. They are also 6-4 over their last 10 home games. These odds bode well for San Antonio.
For the Spurs, it’s all about the match ups. Who will step up and put a damper of Russell Westbrook going off? This is where Dejounte Murray needs to shine. It would be great to see Rudy Gay take on Paul George. And LaMarcus Aldridge paired up with Carmelo Anthony could be quite exciting. But without Pau Gasol, Steve Adams is free to go crazy in the paint. Hopefully we’ll see Joffrey Lauvergne take on some extra minutes and give Adams a run for his money.
Kyle Anderson looked so good in Oakland. Here’s to hoping he keeps his nifty steals in heavy rotation.
Don’t look down
The Spurs are walking a tightrope right now in the standings, still precipitously sitting at the five seed. With a tilt in Houston awaiting them on Monday, this is another game they can’t really afford to lose.
Vegas prediction: Thunder by 5.5.
Game prediction: I hate to keep spouting Spurs by 17, but even a broken clock is right twice a day...Spurs by 3.
For the Thunder fan’s perspective, visit Welcome to Loud City
As always Tony must dominate Fisher.
PtR’s Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed