San Antonio Spurs News

Spurs’ LaMarcus Aldridge Showing His Strength Against Thunder

By Michael Rehome
Apr 30, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) shoots the ball over Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka (9) in game one of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 30, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) shoots the ball over Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka (9) in game one of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports /
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The San Antonio Spurs were one of many teams to pursue LaMarcus Aldridge in the offseason. They knew if they got their man, something special could happen.

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Aldridge in two games against the Thunder has the Spurs realizing their vision of the big man. Through two games in this series, Aldridge has averaged 39.5 points while shooting 75% from the field– game one, 38 points on 18-of-23 shooting from the floor (78-percent). He picked up right where he left off in game two as he continued nailing the mid-range jumper on his way to 41 points on 15-of-21 shooting (71-percent).

When the Thunder tried to shake things up to help bring Aldridge down, he thoroughly dominated his individual matchups. Aldridge has shown his array of moves that many would consider being difficult shots: contested turnarounds, fadeaway jumpers, as well as hook shots with noticeable contacts. Aldridge has taken this series to the point that he’s made Serge Ibaka—a truly fine defender—into an easy mark.

Oklahoma City’s Billy Donovan knows the strength of Aldridge and his isolation game. “I think any time you’re getting in those situations, Aldridge is such a good isolation player,” Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said. “And obviously they have terrific guys that have been in their system for a long period of time, so there’s always that balance that I think Pop’s striking and he’s really striking it well.”

Aldridge has quickly turned into the Spurs go-to guy when their first option, Kawhi Leonard, is not hitting his shots early on. Aldridge has simply turned up his aggressive play and it has shown thus far. San Antonio has options and reason to invest in scoring alternatives. Yet Gregg Popovich isn’t shy when it comes to posting Aldridge on possession after possession for minutes at a time, both as a means for funneling the offense through a dominant scorer and gauging the Thunder’s tendency for overreaction.

What is happening is the Spurs are seeing exactly why they were one of many to seek Aldridge in the offseason. What he is doing during this series against the Thunder is incredible. If he continues this stretch and others pile on, San Antonio will be hard to stop.

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