San Antonio: 120
Oklahoma City: 111
I am collaborating on this series with fellow writer Mike Owens. He’ll be covering the home team and I’ll be covering the away team.
In this game, the Oklahoma City lost on the road in a very disappointing defensive outing. The Thunder were able to score 111 points on San Antonio’s home court, shooting 42% from the field and 47% from three point range. The Big 3 of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden combined for 88 of those points. Scoring was not Oklahoma City’s problem. It was their defense.
The Thunder allowed the Spurs to score 120 points in regulation. Despite shooting only 66% from the free throw line, the Spurs held the advantage because they shot 55% from the field and 42% from three point range. The stat sheet only details so much. The Thunder’s inability to defend the pick and roll is one of the biggest detriments to their chances of success. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are some of the craftiest players with the ball in their hands. If allowed room and time for decision making, these players are able to manipulate defenses, especially those that are weak like the Thunder. The Spurs also spread the floor well, allowing everyone to touch the ball. The Thunder were caught out of place on too many defensive possessions. They looked lost and listless time and time again during this game. The Spurs would either hit an open three or penetrate against the unsuspecting defense. Even with Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins, the Thunder’s post play was abused. Championships are won in the trenches so Oklahoma City lost the only paint production they had when Ibaka and Perkins were neutralized. This opened up the lane for San Antonio’s penetration and Tim Duncan’s post domination, essentially setting the gateway for the rest of San Antonio’s offensive assault.
If the Thunder want any chance of defeating with the deeper Spurs, they will have to put up better defensive efforts. The Spurs have more dangerous weapons that must be defended at all times, as five players scored in double figures, making it hard for Oklahoma City to zone and double team. The pick and roll is a major focal point of San Antonio’s offense. Russell Westbrook’s defense on Tony Parker will be the key matchup to watch going forward. His pressure on Parker will be the catalyst to the Thunder defense in their hopes to minimize the offensive juggernaut that is the San Antonio Spurs. In order to make this a competitive series, the Thunder must win both games at home to even the series. Be sure to check out the Home Team analysis by Mike Owens and catch the next game Thursday at 9 p.m. in Oklahoma City.