Thunder (2-game winning streak)
105.2 Offensive Efficiency (3rd)
98.6 Defensive Efficiency (12th)
95.6 Pace (8th)
Spurs (3-game winning streak)
103.1 Offensive Efficiency (7th)
100.5 Defensive Efficiency (19th)
92.9 Pace (20th)
The Thunder are coming off a great win last night over the Grizzlies in which they came back in the fourth quarter and Kevin Durant shut the door in the final minute. Oklahoma City beat the Spurs the first time these teams met in Oklahoma City on Jan. 8, 108-96. The Thunder had a great game that night shooting 51 percent from the field as a team and compiling out 25 assists. Durant had 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists that night. Russell Westbrook chipped in with 13 points and James Harden had 20 points. Nick Collison also had a big night then with 12 points and 10 rebounds. The Spurs are once again having a lot of success this season and doing it in a different way than most teams, especially the Thunder. The Spurs are well balanced and play their bench more than most teams while the Thunder are top heavy with Durant, Westbrook and Harden. This will make for an interesting matchup tonight and possible preview of a playoff matchup later on this year.
Thunder keys to the game
1. Get some looks off screens
The Thunder did a good job last night getting open looks off screens. Oklahoma City made 5-of-9 shots off screens including 2-of-4 threes. San Antonio is last in the league in defending shooters coming off screens so the Thunder should look to get Durant and Harden some looks this way. The Thunder don’t look for this shot a lot and usually depend more on isolation and pick-and-rolls despite being very efficient when they do shoot off screens. Durant is fifth in the NBA with a 1.11 PPP coming off screens, shooting 50 percent on those shots including 45.5 percent on threes.
2. Don’t fall behind early
This is easier said than done but it will be vital for the Thunder to get off to a good start tonight. Durant and Westbrook both played over 40 minutes last night and now on a back-to-back, the Thunder don’t want to need them to play heavy minutes again. Hopefully they are fresh to start the game because they played last night and can parlay that into some good shooting early. Playing with good defensive intensity and maybe forcing some steals and easy fast break points will be something to look for from the Thunder tonight. If not, it won’t be easy to comeback since the Spurs have a very good bench.
3. Bench production
On a back-to-back and on the road is not a good thing for the Thunder bench, which always plays better at home. Harden played very well against the Spurs in the teams’ first meeting and they are going to need him again to step it up tonight. The Thunder still aren’t getting much from rookie Reggie Jackson so almost all of the ball handling burden lies with Harden. Collison also played a big role in the Thunder’s win over the Spurs earlier this season so if they can get it going in the pick-and-roll tonight, the Thunder will in a better position to pull this one off.
Prediction: San Antonio wins 110-108.