Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs (56-19) at Oklahoma City Thunder (54-20)


Mar 11, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (left) drives to the basket as San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (right) defends during the first half at the AT

The match-up that everyone has been talking about that could possibly see who will claim the top seed in the Western Conference come playoff time.  For the San Antonio Spurs (56-19) they are coming off of a 98 to 84 win over the Orland Magic.  This game against the Thunder will be their second back-to-back and marks their fourth game in five nights.

For the Thunder, they are team that is well rested.  Their last game seemed to have been ages ago.  March 20th against the Milwaukee Bucks was their last game.  The Thunder did win that game 109 to 99.

While Manu Ginobili remains sidelined due to a hamstring injury, the Spurs could otherwise be at full strength. After sitting out Wednesday’s 98-84 win over Orlando, Tony Parker (ankle), Kawhi Leonard (knee) and DeJuan Blair (stomach virus) are all likely to be available.

Mar 11, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) is defended by San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) during the first half at the AT

After winning four of five, Oklahoma City (54-20) finds itself 1 1/2 games behind San Antonio with less than two weeks remaining in the regular season. The well-rested Thunder know winning this game could go a long way in their quest for the West’s No. 1 seed, especially considering they would lose the season series if the Spurs win.

Oklahoma City has outscored the Spurs by an average of 12.0 points in taking four straight home matchups, including three victories in last season’s conference finals. The Thunder won 107-93 on Dec. 17 behind Serge Ibaka’s 25 points and season high-tying 17 rebounds, but that came between a pair of losses at San Antonio.

San Antonio has lost its only three road games this month and also has dropped three straight when playing the second of games on back-to-back days.

While the Spurs will surely focus on slowing down Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, containing Martin could also prove key.

Martin scored 20 in the Dec. 17 win but had 15 and nine, respectively, in the two losses at San Antonio.

Durant has averaged 22.7 points against the Spurs this season – easily his fewest against any West opponent and 5.6 below his NBA-leading mark. He scored 36 in Friday’s 101-93 loss at Minnesota, then 30 against the Bucks.

Westbrook recorded his first triple-double of the season Saturday with 23 points, a season best-tying 13 rebounds and 10 assists. He’s shot 34.8 percent in this season series.

Barring some last minute switches from Head Coach Gregg Popovich, this is how I see the starting lineups shaping up for tonight’s nationally televised match-up.


Point GuardsTony Parker – Russell Westbrook

Shooting GuardsDanny Green – Thabo Sefolosha

Small ForwardsKawhi Leonard – Kevin Durant

Power ForwardsTim Duncan – Serge Ibaka

CentersTiago Splitter – Kendrick Perkins

BenchGary Neal, Boris Diaw, Nando De Colo – Kevin Martin, Derek Fisher, Nick Collison


WHEN: April 4, 2013 at 8:30 PM (Spurs Time)WHERE:  Chesapeake Energy Center, Oklahoma City, OKTELEVISION:  TNT   RADIO:  1200 AM WOIA (local)

Thunder perspective can be found here:  Thunderous Intentions