El Conclusion: Oklahoma City Thunder 113, San Antonio Spurs 100
|Tim Duncan, PF Shot Chart 35 MIN | 7-14 FG | 3-4 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | -10
Dealing with that Thunder frontcourt is a difficult task on any night, let alone when you’re without your team’s best backcourt rebounder. Duncan was pretty good, all things considered. And this was a tough one. He scored efficiently and rebounded well in those 35 minutes, and the Spurs needed every bit of that just to keep up.
|Tiago Splitter, C Shot Chart 24 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-2 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | +4
He was pretty rough offensively against the long arms of Oklahoma City, but his rebounding and defense in the second half were crucial to the charges the Spurs made. Though they obviously weren’t enough. Still, his contributions on the defensive side were very important to the process.
|Tony Parker, PG Shot Chart 33 MIN | 6-14 FG | 11-13 FT | 2 REB | 8 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 23 PTS | -6
Tony Parker really struggled to get going in the first quarter, missing a bunch of shots inside in the early going. He did wake, however, but San Antonio found itself behind the eight-ball. His box score probably should have been even better, but he did get to the free throw line a season high 13 times, and that was important for a team that doesn’t get to the stripe very often.
|Marco Belinelli, SG Shot Chart 38 MIN | 6-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 17 PTS | -13
Marco got the start tonight in place of Kawhi Leonard, who was a late scratch after a dental procedure left him unable to play. He started the game absolutely on fire, hitting his first five 3-point attempts. He missed his final three, but a couple of those were in what was essentially garbage time. It was his shooting that kept San Antonio in the game during that second quarter that saw the Thunder rack up 40 points. His defense wasn’t great, but he was given a task he’ll never have under normal circumstances.
|Danny Green, SG Shot Chart 34 MIN | 2-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | -10
Danny wasn’t great from the field once again, and he had a couple more of those “holy crap what the hell” turnovers. But his defense on everyone from Kevin Durant to Russell Westbrook to Reggie Jackson was impressive, considering he learned about two hours before tip Leonard wouldn’t be guarding the league’s best scorer. Unfortunately, with all the weapons OKC possesses, it didn’t matter as much as it normally would.
|Matt Bonner, PF Shot Chart 2 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | 0
Logged 1:47, hit a three and grabbed a board. Just didn’t play enough.
|Boris Diaw, PF Shot Chart 29 MIN | 6-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | -15
Boris had a pretty nice stat line, but he seemed to be hesitating more than he has all season. It slowed the rhythm of the offense at times, it seemed. Other than that, it was another good performance on both sides of the ball. The numbers just felt a little empty.
|Aron Baynes, PF Shot Chart 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 0 PTS | -2
He got an early chance to contribute, and he was awful. Two fouls and two turnovers in fewer than two minutes.
|Patty Mills, PG Shot Chart 15 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -7
His job is to spark the offense, and the team hardly did a thing on that side of the ball when he was on the floor. He remained a pest defensively (in a good way) and gave OKC a few issue, but this was one of Patty’s inconsistent nights. He’s going to be up and down all season.
|Cory Joseph, PG Shot Chart 2 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | 0
Normally this would be an inc. because he hardly played, but man, that attempt at a floater…… blergh.
|Manu Ginobili, SG Shot Chart 27 MIN | 3-9 FG | 3-3 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -6
Manu didn’t shoot well in this one, and Oklahoma City’s length and pressure are issues for the sixth man. Also, his turnover in the 10-minute mark of the fourth that led to a breakaway Jackson dunk was an absolute momentum destroyer.
|Jeff Ayres, PF Shot Chart DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS |
|Kawhi Leonard, SF Shot Chart DNP DENTAL SURGERY MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS |
Ugh. Damn. YOU DON’T NEED TEETH TO PLAY BASKETBALL KAWHI YOU KNOW THAT RIGHT?! DENCHERS ARE AWESOME AND ARE SO IN RIGHT NOW!
I’m honestly not sure what he was supposed to do in this one. Kawhi Leonard is such a crucial element to the Spurs’ success against Oklahoma City, and to find out just two hours before the game that he wouldn’t be available just wrecks a game plan. And really not even that, as San Antonio doesn’t really specify a game plan on a night-by-night basis. But there’s no question it just changes the way the group functions as a whole.
Five Things We Saw
- Spurs have absolutely zero chance of beating the Thunder without Kawhi Leonard. Because of the way OKC operates, and because of the personnel it utilizes, Leonard’s absence break downs the defensive system. Tough circumstances.
- Marco Belinelli continues to fire away at an unbelievable rate. He’s now shooting 54 percent from the 3-point line this season. The NBA record for percentage in a season: 53.6 percent.
- Tony looked decent in his return, but he said he wasn’t 100 percent. Things will get better.
- San Antonio lost the rebound battle, 48-37, which was one of the areas I identified pre-game as a matchup to watch. The Thunder are so big and athletic, and without Leonard on the floor snagging rebounds as Duncan, Splitter and Co. battle for position, it becomes a major team effort and occupies more players than it normally would.
- Kawhi Leonard’s absence causes a domino effect. When he’s off the floor, it creates major problems up and down the roster as other players are forced to maintain roles to which they’re not accustomed.