Jun 06, 2012; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan (21) drives on Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka (9) during the second half in game six of the Western Conference finals of the 2012 NBA playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE

Oklahoma City Thunder 2012-13 Preview: San Antonio Spurs

Thunderous Intentions will begin to preview the 2012-13 NBA season by going through every team in the league and breaking down how they match up with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Be sure to check out the previous matchups we have previewed: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Hornets, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings.

Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE

San Antonio Spurs Team Overview

The Spurs had the best record in the Western Conference last year for the second straight season. They were a juggernaut for most of the regular season and that carried into the playoffs as they swept the first two rounds and then went up 2-0 in the West Finals vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Thunder won the last four games of that series and the Spurs ended their season in disappointment again. This summer, they made the fewest changes to their roster of any team in the NBA. Tim Duncan re-signed for three more years accepting less money and they also re-signed Danny Green and Boris Diaw.

Nando De Colo is the only new face that may see some run. The French guard played in the Olympics with Tony Parker and Diaw and within the Spurs’ system could become another key contributor for their team.

Everyone is always ready to write off the Spurs but then they come out and almost always prove their critics wrong. With the Thunder beating them in the playoffs last year and the Lakers acquiring Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, everyone has once again forgotten about the Spurs.

But they like it that way and they won’t be going away just yet.

Last year

The Thunder played the Spurs three times in the regular season last year. The Thunder won the first meeting 108-96 in OKC early on in the year on Jan. 8 then the Spurs won the final two meetings.

Kevin Durant averaged 22.7 points, 4.7 assists and 9.3 rebounds per game vs. the Spurs in the regular season. He shot just .468 percent from the field and .273 percent from downtown.

Russell Westbrook averaged 22.3 points and 5.7 assists per game and shot .448 percent from the field. James Harden averaged 19.3 points per game and shot .594 percent from the field and .417 percent from three.

The Thunder and Spurs met in the Western Conference Finals and the Spurs looked well on their way to the NBA Finals after the first two games of the series in San Antonio. That changed when the series shifted to OKC as the Thunder took control and went on to win the final four games.

Durant averaged 29.5 points, 5.3 assists and 7.5 rebounds per game in the series. He shot .532 percent from the field and .357 percent from three. He attempted 9.3 free throws per game and shot .911 percent from the line.

Westbrook averaged 18.2 points and 7.3 assists per game. He shot just .378 percent from the field and attempted only 3.8 free throws per game.

Harden averaged 18.5 points per game and shot .493 percent from the field and .609 percent from three.

The matchup

The Spurs had the best offense in the NBA last season in terms of points per possession and overall efficiency. They looked that way against the Thunder for the most part too.

They were second best in the league on spot-up plays and best in transition and the pick-and-roll. Tony Parker spearheaded the offensive attack as he ended up making First Team All-NBA and was deservedly in the conversation for MVP.

The Spurs were in the middle of the pack defensively ranking 14th overall during the regular season. They did struggle vs. isolation plays (26th) and the pick-and-roll (29th), two areas where the Thunder offense thrived.

The Spurs’ offense was still the best in the playoffs and even against the Thunder in the West Finals. They could not stop the Thunder on offense though and the more talented team would eventually win the series.

It was a close series though and if San Antonio had pulled out Game 5, we could be talking about them winning an NBA title instead. The Spurs were close and this matchup between them and the Thunder was a very fun one.

Next year

Again, everyone expects the Spurs to take a step back next season. They probably won’t. They are one of the toughest matchups for the Thunder and it should stay that way next season.

Tony Parker is still very much in his prime and the way he runs that Spurs offense they can beat the Thunder every time. During the regular season when you aren’t playing the same team again and again, the Spurs have the advantage against the Thunder since they are so superior to any other team in the league in the way the carry themselves on a nightly basis.

They will play four times in the regular season first in San Antonio on Nov. 1, then in OKC on Dec. 17, then in San Antonio on March 11 and finally in OKC April 4.

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