Welcome to Spurs preseason, the sport where everything is made up and the points don’t matter. [Apologies to Drew Carey, and ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’] The 2020-2021 Spurs are supposed to be a team with a greatly improved defense and an increased offensive pace, but it didn’t work out that way as the Thunder took wide-open shots for much of the game and sunk them with abandon. Considering the absence of Derrick White and Keldon Johnson, and the overall rustiness of the team, it was a great debut by first round pick Devin Vassell and there were some bright spots, the biggest one being the effort to bring the team back from a 20 point deficit to make the game interesting late.
- It was great to see Bill Land and Sean Elliott in the same arena with the team. I liked them working the game during the bubble, but they didn’t quite have quite the same connection working the game remotely as they get being courtside.
- Jakob Poeltl is still missing free throws, but he’s looking to score more, and that’s a big improvement.
- Devin Vassell came into the game and instantly made an impact, hitting shots and making defensive plays. He did pick up three quick fouls, so that’s one thing he’s going to have to improve on. He’s going to work out just fine.
- Theo Maledon looks really good. He looks like a steal at the 34th pick.
- The Spurs defense was supposed to be much improved this year. That didn’t seem to be the case in the first half as the Thunder got great looks and sunk them.
- I’m not sure if having LaMarcus Aldridge bombing from beyond the three point line almost every time he sees the ball is the best use of his talents.
- Cam Reynolds looks better than I expected. He’s got some offense in his game and he’s a good athlete. I don’t see how there’s room on the Spurs for him, but he could make a team.
- Alexi Pokusevski looks ridiculously talented for his age. He could end up being the steal of the draft.
The game started off with Jakob Poeltl showing his expanded offensive range, hitting a couple of floaters in the paint. The Spurs’ early lead was erased by hot shooting from beyond the 3-point arc from the Thunder from Mike Muscala. Late in the quarter, with Devin Vassell and Patty Mills in the game, the Spurs were able to keep pace with the hot-shooting Thunder, with OKC leading 33-32 after one.
The hot shooting for the Thunder continued in the second quarter with the talented French rookie Theo Maledon scoring at will against the Spurs as they built an 13 point lead. Things got ridiculous with Isaiah Roby’s jumper bouncing in at the buzzer to give the Thunder a 73-58 lead at the half.
The third quarter started on a horrible note for the good guys as they couldn’t hit anything or defend and the Thunder lead soared to 20. The Spurs finally started to play a little defense as some nice steals from Rudy Gay and Dejounte Murray kept the Thunder from running away from it. Vassell made a huge difference in the defensive intensity as the Spurs began to pound the ball in the paint and cut the lead to single digits. The Thunder led 98-90 after three.
The Spurs got everyone in the game in the fourth quarter, and Vassell and Tre Jones looked good, as the Spurs made the score interesting closing the lead to within a basket halfway through the quarter. But Alexei Pokusevski started to hit his shots and the Thunder put it away late with a torrent of three-pointers, pulling away to a 13 point win.
It feels like a new day, in a lot of ways. This is a song about how to start out the day right. RIP Charlie Pride.
What’s Next . . .
For the Thunder fans’ perspective, visit Welcome to Loud City.
The Spur have two preseason games left, both against the Rockets, the first one on Tuesday night at 7:00 pm. It should be interesting, so let’s watch that one together.