Mar 11, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs players (from left) Patrick Mills, and DeJuan Blair, and Stephen Jackson react from the bench during the first half against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the AT

Have the OKC Thunder lost the biggest advantage they had over the Spurs?

The bench of the San Antonio Spurs led the way last night in their 105-93 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Led by Tiago Splitter, who started but played a lot with the second unit, the Spurs outscored the Thunder bench by over 20 points throughout the game.

This is something that would never have happened a season ago when the Thunder still had James Harden.

So, it’s time to overreact now. Maybe the greatest advantage the Thunder had over the Spurs last season was Harden and that second unit. The Spurs are known for their depth and the Thunder were able to nullify that strength when Harden checked in and led the OKC second unit.

There was no Harden and nothing coming close to resembling him last night in San Antonio for the Thunder. Kevin Martin made just 3-of-8 shots and scored nine points (all on three-pointers). Reggie Jackson and Derek Fisher combined to go 1-for-7 from the field with two assists. Even Nick Collison struggled mildly turning the ball over three times.

The Spurs would go on to outscore the Thunder 35-18 in the second quarter after the Thunder had led 32-22 after the first.

A weak second unit hasn’t been the case for the Thunder all season long. For the most part, their bench has come through more than most teams have. It’s just that when faced against another elite team, Martin and some of the other role players are no longer as effective.

This forced Scott Brooks to alter his rotation early in the season resting Kevin Durant early in the first quarter then starting him in the second. Brooks hasn’t made this an unbreakable rule but may have to go back to it in the playoffs. We may actually see Durant playing close to 46 minutes per game or so in some playoff games.

The Thunder had a good chance to catch the Spurs in the standings last night. Without Tony Parker, the Spurs still managed to get the win at home and instill plenty of doubt in the Thunder faithful.

The Thunder and Spurs will conclude their regular season series April 4 in OKC.

Tags: Oklahoma City Thunder San Antonio Spurs

  • Michael Monroy Diaz


    • disqus_9EObqzUNxY

      tony parker (Spurs best player) was out. excuses, smh

      • Michael Monroy Diaz

        will see april 4th

  • Dr Swishhh

    Against the two best teams, the Heat and the Spurs, OKC always look tentative. They have the deer in the headlights look too often. What has made OKC a great team has been a no fear, use your athleticism, back yourself against anyone mentality. At the moment, the expectation self- and externally-imposed is weighing the Thunder down against the very best teams in my opinion.

    There is a great post by “GoodKid” on which makes some brilliant points including: “There aren’t many, if not any, teams who can boast that kind of organic growth that OKC has developed over the years” and “As a fan, I say just sit back, enjoy the basketball, and curb the criticism and complaints once in a while”.

    KD can’t win, no he’s getting the blame for taking 13 (really 18) shots, trying to make the right play, and have our offense less predictable. Do what you think is right Kevin, I trust you man. Speaking of trust, coach needs to trust the bench players more. Anyone would think Ronnie Brewer is a hack. Reggie Jackson could actually be the key to our playoff chances, the kid is ready to explode. He has the athleticism and unpredictability of Westbrook yet is nothing like him. Play the kid!!! The Thunder will get more out of their starters when the bench guys are asked to share more of the minutes in big games. Have faith Scotty, rest your starters briefly and often and they will be better players.

    The Thunder just need to get their swagger back; the Heat and the Spurs fear their athleticism and spend most of their time trying to keep it in check. So far they have been successful, but a little more confidence and a few things go our way and the first quarter against the Spurs may be a sign of things to come.