The San Antonio Spurs face the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals today. Here’s some keys to victory for the Spurs.
Dictate the Pace of the Game
The Spurs like to establish their half-court offense and slow the game down. The Thunder, on the other hand, prefer to play more up-tempo. If the Spurs are able to control the speed of this game, they increase their chances of winning. They’re a better shooting team than the Thunder, and if they take care of the ball and limit their turnovers, they should be able to win this game if the shot totals remain close to even. The Spurs don’t turn the ball over nearly as often as the Thunder do, so this bodes well in their quest for solid offensive possessions.
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Win the Rebounding Battle
These two teams are elite rebounding squads in the league. If the game slows down and becomes more bruising inside, the Thunder will try to capitalize as much as possible on offensive rebounds. During the regular season, they ranked 1st in both Offensive Rebound Rate and Second Chance Points. It’s crucial for LaMarcus Aldridge and Tim Duncan to have solid rebounding performances.
Limit Thunder Role Players
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are superstars, and they’ll get their points in some way or another. The easier way to impede the Thunder’s potent offense is to focus on limiting the offensive impact of role players who assist Durant and Westbrook on offense. Durant and Westbrook can’t outscore this deep Spurs lineup by themselves; they’ll need solid performances from guys like Serge Ibaka, Dion Waiters, Enes Kanter, and Steven Adams. Holding those 4 guys to under 40 points combined is a much easier task than trying to stop two elite players like Durant and Westbrook.