The Oklahoma City Thunder will host the San Antonio Spurs tonight looking for their 11th straight win.
The Thunder lost to the Spurs in their first game of the season 86-84 as Tony Parker made a game-winning jumper at the buzzer.
That game was a long time ago and the Thunder had just traded James Harden and hadn’t had time to gel with some of their new players just yet. As a result, the Thunder shot just 37.7 percent from the field for the game with Russell Westbrook performing the poorest making 6-of-21 shots.
Since then the Thunder have become the most efficient offense in the league and lead the lead in true shooting percentage as well with an incredible mark of 59.6 percent.
Kevin Durant has led the way for OKC as he nears 50-40-90 shooting splits and is averaging 27.5 points per game this season. He had just 23 points on 9-0f-18 shooting in the first meeting but did pull down 14 rebounds.
The Spurs have slipped from their offensive prowess a year ago but only a tiny bit as they still rank 5th overall in the NBA. Defensively, the Spurs are also ranked 5th and they do seem to defend the Thunder and Westbrook particularly well.
Two players that didn’t really show up in the first meeting and have been playing better since are Kevin Martin and Serge Ibaka. Martin had 15 points and five assists but was not fitting in as seamlessly with the rest of the offense as he is now. Ibaka finished with only four points in 31 minutes and has been much better than that recently.
The Spurs will be without Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard and most likely Stephen Jackson as well tonight. Jackson targeted tonight as a possible return but now it looks like he will not play. Ginobili did not play in the first meeting either.
Between the two teams, the Thunder have certainly grown the most since their first meeting. It won’t be the same script as then especially since the setting will now be OKC.
Parker will be a handful as usual but Westbrook has been playing at an All-Defensive level this year according to some. Westbrook will offensively have to be much more efficient than he has in the past vs. San Antonio for the Thunder to have their best shot at winning.
Winning 10 games in a row is tough and 11 in a row is even harder. When that 11th team is the Spurs, it becomes that much more challenging. But make no mistake about it, this isn’t just any regular season game for the Thunder. They want to avenge their loss earlier in the year while San Antonio may not feel the same sense of urgency to win a game in December.
At home, it’s never smart to bet against the Thunder but if there is a team in the league who can take down the Thunder in this setting at this point in the season, that team would be San Antonio.
It will be a good one tonight, that’s for sure, with tip-off at 8 p.m. EST.