3-on-3 Gameday Preview: Spurs vs. Thunder Game 1

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(Photo credit: aaronisnotcool)

To complete our day of previews for the Spurs-Thunder Western Conference Finals, we have a Game 1 3-on-3 preview with Beckley Mason of HoopSpeak fame.

1. How terrified should Thunder fans be that Gregg Popovich had six days to gameplan for OKC?

Beckley Mason, HoopSpeak: They should be worried, but the Spurs’ advantage doesn’t stop there. Pop’s in game adjustments are going to be vital as well, and we know he isn’t afraid to throw gimmicky junk defenses out there if he thinks it will disrupt the Thunder’s straightforward attack.

Andrew McNeill, 48 Minutes of Hell: Be afraid, be very afraid. I can’t imagine what I would be thinking if I were on the other side of this equation. I probably wouldn’t trust any advantage my team had on paper. I’m glad I don’t have to worry about this.

Timothy Varner, 48 Minutes of Hell: LJ Ellis (here and here), John HollingerRob Mahoney, and Zach Lowe have done a terrific job of outlining the crucial Xs and Os of this series. One big collective takeaway from their previews is that this series is very much a chess match. And in that sense, I don’t think I’d say Thunder fans should be terrified as much as Spurs fans should be confident.


2. If Oklahoma City takes Game 1 in San Antonio, are the Spurs in trouble?

Beckley Mason, HoopSpeak: No, it’s a long series! The Spurs have “trusted the system” all season long, and they’ll continue to do so in this series. The shots will fall.

Andrew McNeill, 48MoH: Not in trouble per se, but it’s not a good start. You might be able to chalk it up to rust if that happens, but I think a Game 1 loss at home for the Spurs would really boost the Thunder’s confidence going forward in the series, and I wouldn’t want that to happen.

Timothy Varner, 48MoH: No. The Spurs are, as John Hollinger recently noted, 43-4 in their last 47 games that featured Tony Parker. The Thunder are an amazingly good basketball team and if not for the Spurs  I suspect OKC is at the front end of something that in 10 years will look similar to what the Pop era Spurs have put together. But having said that, the Thunder won’t rattle the Spurs, even if they take Game 1.


3. Are we getting to the point in the playoffs where all this rest could be bad for the Spurs?

Beckley Mason, HoopSpeak: I don’t believe rest is ever bad, especially for a team as old and well-practiced as the Spurs. It might make a difference in the first game, I suppose, but over a seven game series those extra days off start to really make a difference.

Andrew McNeill, 48MoH: Considering how short the two previous series have been, I’d say yes. Pop and his staff are doing their best to recreate a playoff schedule for the Spurs when it comes to practices, but there’s no substitute for game action. We’ll get a pretty good idea of where we stand come Sunday evening.

Timothy Varner, 48MoH: Yes, if for only one player. Manu Ginobili is not putting up his standard numbers, and more court time would certainly help his rhythm. My biggest concern for the series is that James Harden plays more like Manu Ginobili than Manu Ginobili. Spurs fans that aren’t familiar with James Harden are in for a treat. He’s proof positive that a Manu Ginobili-esque player comes along approximately once per decade.

  • Ray Briggs

    If the Spurs lose Game 1 it won’t shake the Spurs confidence but it will probably shake some fan confidence. I have been spoiled by 10 point victories and sweeps so far by these Spurs.

  • Grego

    The good news is OKC has had a long time off as well. So the rust versus rest argument really doesn’t exist since both likely will have the rust.

  • Stijl

    Good point Grego.

    However, I do appreciate Varner’s comments about Ginobili. But considering Ginobili has perpetually gotten better compared to the first round series against the Jazz and the semi against the Clipps…I hope the step improvement over the past two series continues for Ginobili against the Thunder in this upcoming series. Don’t doubt the Lion. Matted may be his mane but deadly is still his pounce.

  • Rev spurs

    One of the luxuries of having a deep team is that our starters have had the fortune of playing against our bench for the past week – Manu, Neal, SJax, Bonner and Tiago (a playoff team in itself). Obviously not as good as OKC starters, but better than anyone else has to practice against.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Yeah both teams have been out of action as much as the other but our beloved Spurs tend to start slow very slow after long layoffs. I just hope they don’t lay an egg in game 1. They should have brought in the Nuggets for practice.

  • neverthehero

    I secretly hope that Pop hates chess. It’s a fantastic analogy granted but very very few people actually can relate to high level chess; maybe that’s the point I suppose. About Manu, I was encouraged he made shots when everyone wasn’t (I think in the Utah game) so he’s our backup plan.

  • Ravi

    Can someone please share Hollinger’s article?

    Go Spurs Go!!

  • Jimbo

    “The Spurs are, as John Hollinger recently noted, 43-4 in their last 47 games that featured Tony Parker.”

    That is just ridiculous. I feel fortunate to have been able to witness this season. Just a beautiful demonstration of the power of teamwork.

  • Tom Cruise

    I wouldn’t be too worried either if the Spurs lose the first game. After all, we saw what they did after the last game they lost.

  • SpurredOn

    Spurs WCF history under Pop’s leadership shows that this series is likely to end 4-1 than be the long, close encounter predicted by many. In the four series win, Pop’s teams are 16-4 (9-1 on the road) and have only trailed in a series once. In their two losses, 1-8 (0-5 on road). Should the Spurs win game 1, this series is likely heading the same direction. It would force OKC into must win games 2&3. No doubt there will be a couple of 50/50 games, but overall we may see the Spurs cruise in 6 games or win a tighter than it looks 5 game series.

  • Dixon Juwillie

    okc is a very good team but Spurse is the best for now.

  • http://antoniofrommars.free.fr/ AD

    Are ESPN experts experts? and should be be scarfed by their picks for SAS-OKC?

    replies: they are average and we should not be too scared : Arnovitz, Hollinger and Adande got us to advance (yes…even Adande…)…and also, Guttierez bets on OKC (this is fine, check histrack record…poor thing…)

    http://antoniofrommars.free.fr/

  • idahospur

    Spurs have been fighting for every win this postseason and find ways to make stops when necessary. The Jazz and Clippers mad a few games interesting, and the Thunder will come even closer, leading me to believe they can take one in OKC. The schedule of games, playing every other day as opposed to some 2 day rests concerns me somewhat but hopefully the easy travel length shouldn’t be trouble.

  • Stijl

    @Idahospur

    Yeah. Not sure why they couldn’t have done a 5/24 and 5/26 series to start. Then 2 days rest until a 29th and 31st schedule of games played in OKC. Then 2 days rest again until (if needed) a 3rd/5th/7th of June schedule to finish out the series.

    This schedule definitely benefits the youth of the Thunder more so than the age of the Spurs.

    Go Spurs Go despite the schedule.