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