Thunder-Spurs: What We Learned Thursday Night
Friday, April 5th 2013, 6:08 pm
By: News 9
The Oklahoma City Thunder drew to within a half game of San Antonio for the top seed in the Western Conference with a 100-88 victory over the Spurs Thursday night. Although the game didn't provide any definitive information for how a seven-game playoff series would go between the two teams, it did provide some interesting things to think about going forward.
- Oklahoma City is extremely lucky to have the health it does. Russell Westbrook has never missed a game in his basketball career and Kevin Durant has missed 14 games in six seasons. Altogether, Durant, Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Martin and Nick Collison have missed a total of six games all season. That's an incredible stroke of good luck, particularly when you look at how battered and bruised the Spurs are.
- Speaking of the Spurs, they played without Manu Ginobli, Stephen Jackson and (basically) Tony Parker. Parker was completely ineffective in 25 minutes and left the game early in the fourth quarter. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich sounded very concerned talking about Parker's health after the game, saying it looked like tendinitis in his shins. Completely healthy, the Spurs are probably the best team in basketball, yes, even better than the Heat. The problem is the Spurs rarely have a full complement of healthy players. When they did, they ripped off a 16-1 stretch from mid-January to late-February.
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- Kawhi Leonard is a great defender, but he put on a complete performance Thursday night, scoring 24 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and dishing out six assists, all team highs. The Spurs are already dangerous enough on offense with Leonard playing a supporter's role, but if he is aggressive like he was against OKC, it takes San Antonio to a whole new level. That's a scary thought for the rest of the league.
- On the topic of surprise offense, Derek Fisher showed he can still shoot the ball well from time-to-time. The veteran hit 5-of-7 from 3-point range, stunning everyone in the building, including the Spurs. Needless to say, if Fisher can shoot that well consistently, and the Thunder gets normal contributions from the rest of the team, OKC will be impossible to shut down.
- While the Spurs played without several key players, it can be argued OKC didn't play to its full potential as well. Besides Fisher, the OKC bench of Collison, Martin and Reggie Jackson combined for seven points on 2-for-12 shooting from the field. OKC has to have complete production from its bench if it hopes to even get to the NBA Finals, much less win it.