The San Antonio Spurs are trying to pull ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder as this series shifts to Oklahoma City. Here’s some keys to victory for the Spurs in game 3.
Slow the Game Down
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The Thunder outscored the Spurs in fast-break points 21-14 in game 2. During the regular season, the Thunder averaged about 17 fast-break points per game while the Spurs averaged about 11. The tempo of game 2 favored the type of basketball the Thunder like to play. The Spurs will look to slow the pace and decrease the amount of possessions in game 3. The Spurs only committed 10 turnovers in game 2, but the Thunder scored 24 points off those turnovers. There’s very little room for error in allowing the Thunder to initiate the fast-break off of turnovers they create.
Help LaMarcus Aldridge
Aldridge has been remarkable for the first two games of this series, but he’s going to need more help from his teammates than he got in game 2. Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili were the 2 highest scoring Spurs besides Aldridge in game 2, and they combined for 25 points. Contrast that with game 1 when Leonard and Danny Green were the Spurs’ highest scorers besides Aldridge. Leonard and Green combined for 43 points in their game 1 win. They’ve proven that they can win with Aldridge leading the way, but he needs decent support. Taking away Aldridge’s shot attempts, the Spurs had a team field goal percentage of about 34% in game 2. That’s not going to be enough against a team as talented as the Thunder.
Get Patty Mills Open Shots Early
Mills has had a poor shooting series thus far, only shooting 3-13 overall and 1-10 from 3-point range. Only Leonard hit more 3s this season for the Spurs than Mills, and it’s critical for the them to get Mills back in the rhythm of hitting perimeter jumpers. Outside shooting is where most of Mills’ value to the Spurs comes from, so it’s hard for him to meaningfully contribute if he isn’t providing instant offense off the bench in the form of hitting outside shots. In a tight game, a couple 3-pointers from Mills could end up being the difference. The Spurs should look to try to draw up some easy looks for Mills coming off screens when he first comes into the game. If he hits his first couple shots, he could develop a nice flow shooting the ball for the rest of the match.