Advanced Scouting: Oklahoma City Thunder at San Antonio Spurs


Oklahoma City Thunder at San Antonio Spurs 7:30 CST January 1, 2011

SRS ranks:

Oklahoma: 2.33 (10th)
San Antonio: 8.07 (2nd)

Key Player Statistics (courtesy of (effective December 27, 2010) and (effective December 28, 2010):

PlayerFraction of teams minutesPER minus Counterpart PEROn court +/-per 48 minutesOff court +/-per 48 minutes2 Year Adjusted +/-

The Thunder fare much better with Russell Westbrook on the bench this season. There are a couple probable reasons for this. First of all Westbrook’s defensive matchups have typically been productive. According to, Westbrook’s opponent PER is 19.8 this year after two seasons in which he has allowed 16.2 and 16.7.

Additionally, the problem might be with the variability of plus-minus. Last season, the Thunder outscored opponents by 4.7 with Westbrook in the game, but only 0.4 with him on the bench. His 2 year adjusted plus-minus was above 5. Westbrook’s on-court/off-court numbers may suggest he is not elite, but they aren’t enough for me to conclude that he isn’t a pretty good player.

Most valuable/utilized lineups:

Westbrook, Sefolosha, Durant, Green, Krstic: +1 in 231 minutes (0.0 per 48 minutes)
Westbrook, Sefolosha, Durant, Green, Ibaka: +8 in 219 minutes (0.4 per 48 minutes)
Westbrook, Sefolosha, Durant, Ibaka, Krstic: +1 in 231 minutes (0.0 per 48 minutes)

Westbrook, Sefolosha, Durant, Green, Krstic: +70 in 1,291 minutes (2.6 per 48 minutes)

Preferred method to create shots: Durant and Westbrook on Isolations

According to Synergy Sports, the Thunder rank among the best in the league at transition scoring with 16.8 PPG. (They are currently fourth in the NBA). OKC frequently plays Jeff Green at the power forward position which leaves four players very capable of getting out and scoring on the break.

With over 19 points per game, Oklahoma ranks behind only Denver with production from isolation plays. Individually, Durant and Westbrook rank 4th and 8th in the NBA, respectively. In addition to their isolation plays, Westbrook leads a lot of pick and rolls and Durant frequently scores off screens. The Thunder do not have a significant post game.

Appropriate Spurs counter: Try to keep Westbrook outside and force Durant to pass

Westbrook has greatly improved his FT% this year. His 87% rate is 9% greater than last year and 18% greater than his rate in college. Despite this improvement from the line, his outside shot has yet to follow suit. His career 3P% is only 25% he regularly shoots under 40% on 2 point shots, excluding layups and dunks.

Westbrook is one of the most athletic players in the game and a very apt passer. It will be difficult to keep him outside, but if you can, you’ve won half the battle. Parker usually defends Westbrook, and Hill will guard him on occasion. Hill might actually be a better match against Westbrook with size, strength, and his tendency to go under screens.

Over the past year plus, Durant has averaged a very respectable 0.92 PPP on isolations. If you include pick and rolls and post ups, this average remains 0.92. However, Oklahoma only averages 0.82 PPP when he passes out of these play types. (League average is greater when a player passes out of these plays). Your odds of winning this matchup increase if you can get him to give up the ball. Of course, Durant’s height and skill can make this tricky. If the Spurs aren’t careful with double-teams, Westbrook could have easy scoring opportunities himself.

As with most teams, no San Antonio player is a great matchup for Durant. The Spurs have used George Hill and Richard Jefferson on him over the past couple seasons. The size and length disparity makes the Spurs decision to use Hill interesting. It’s tough to see this being favorable for the Spurs over the long term, but Durant is uncomfortable enough posting up that the Spurs can probably get away with this for a while.

Defensive Strategy: Attack Westbrook on pick and rolls and post up Jeff Green

This year, opponents are scoring 0.99 points per possession (PPP) on 151 possessions in pick and roll plays against Westbrook (30th percentile defensively). Tony Parker generally runs a lot of pick and rolls, so the Spurs should have many opportunities to take advantage of this matchup.

Jeff Green has allowed 1.02 PPP on 219 post possessions over the past two years. Green is a skilled big man who enables the Thunder to wreck havoc on the fast break, but the Thunder have done much better with him on the bench. Despite his “diminished role”, Duncan has remained the Spurs only truly effective scoring option in the post. However, even if Splitter and Blair are matched up on Green, they could find more offensive success than usual.


Admittedly, it will be difficult for the Spurs to account for both Westbrook and Durant, but the Spurs have a lot of offense firepower that will also give the Thunder fits. This is a home game and the Thunder’s SRS does not match their record… I like the Spurs chances in this game.

Happy New Year everyone!

  • Bruno

    Go Spurs play hard defense to win! Pop will give more minutes to Splitter is his birthday??I expect yes, we need developing Tiago to playoffs…


    This should be a good test for our perimeter D. With Westbrook, Harden, and Durant all playing well as of late. Also against an undersized front line, this will be a GREAT opportunity to get Splitter/Blair some confidence and minutes. Also with them getting their spirits up, we can expect a little more hustle and hopefully a Great Defensive performance tonight to kick of our official push for 5.

  • Greyberger

    The Thunder have a great fastbreak team. At home, so do the Spurs.

    In fast break points (points from FTs not included) the Spurs score 19.4 at home and just 11.8 on the road.

  • Ruel

    It will be a good test tonight? A must win will be a good start for a New Year and New Beginning. Team Defense will be the tone of Victory? If we can do that tonight? It will be another blow out game which is hard to do because OKC will try to defend their home court and win? It’ll be an interesting game? I wish I don’t have anything plans or going tonight but more likely I might miss to see/watch the game but I have a good feeling our San Antonio Spurs will come out and play hard to win tonight? We need to control the game, slow their tempo, win the boards, and defense. It will be a good test for Tiago Splitter if our coaching staffs let him loose and play tonight since he’s been rested for days? It’s okay even thou if we lose? We need him more to be ready against the Boston Celtics to set the tone with or without Kevin Garnett? It’s okay also if he don’t get a chance to play tonight? Maybe there’s a reason that we just don’t know? Win or Lose Keep Pounding The Rock San Antonio Spurs and Give Them 48 minutes of Team Hell Defense!!!

  • Ruel

    My bad and my apologized!!! I thought we’re going to play at OKC tonight? I just checked and realized that we’re gonna play in on our Home court San Antonio. YES, we have a better chance to win tonight’s game.

  • NYC

    Now that’s an exciting 1st quarter!
    Go Spurs Go

  • NYC

    Thunder coming back. Ibaka giving us trouble with his defensive presence, but I still like what I see in the 2nd Q. Spurs slowing the tempo, trying to limit the Thunders’ shots, forcing the ball away from Durant. Ibaka’s their high scorer and the only player doing well against us. We’re making them beat us with Ibaka, shutting down Durant and Westbrook.

    Not as magnificent as the 1st Q, but still good play on both sides of the court. Let’s keep it up, Spurs!

  • SAJKinBigD

    Nice half of basketball, I’d say! Go Spurs Go!

  • r.l.manuel

    77-53 spurs

  • NYC

    Fantastic offense on display, but it’s the defense I’m paying the most attention to. Was playing fast and loose and Durant was starting to warm up (no coincidence) but we came back and tightened up the defense at the end of the Q.
    Good job. Let’s close this one out the right way, Spurs!

  • r.l.manuel

    90-65 spurs

  • r.l.manuel

    ”the ashes of this ball game”
    quote from thunders broadcaster

  • r.l.manuel

    48 minutes of hell

  • NYC

    Now THAT’S what I’m talking about. That was a great game. The Mavericks game was not a good game that resulted in a win. This was a great game ending with a W, like the LA game before.
    Kept the Thunder to 74 pts, Durant to 16 pts in 15 attempts. Intensity on both ends of the floor. Guys working as a team. Put together a few more of these, and I can believe again.

  • r.l.manuel

    go spurs go
    freakin awesome defense

  • NYC

    Almost forgot to mention: 4 full quarters of good defensive effort. Thank you!

  • r.l.manuel

    go spurs go
    freakin awesome defense
    happy new year

  • td4life

    Now that’s what I call a quality win… four quarters of good ball against a quality opponent… Happy New Year everybody!

    ps. I freaking love George freaking Hill.

  • Mitch

    Points in the paint: Spurs: 60, Thunder: 26.
    Starters all under 30 min for game.
    Blair played very well.
    Tiago played 19 min.
    Nice team D.
    GO SPURS GO!!!

  • Rafael

    Very good game. This is the TD!!Tony very good, Ginobili playing for the team but bad ofensive, Hill good, Blair well, Splitter playing very well in defense but miss some easy basket(i think he have talent to develop…), Neal play hard defense but not so good like other games in atack…


    Very good game. This is the TD!!Tony very good, Ginobili playing for the team but bad ofensive, Hill good, Blair well, Splitter playing very well in defense but miss some easy basket(i think he have talent to develop…), Neal play hard defense but not so good like other games in atack….

  • SAJKinBigD

    Awesome game! Did I read right that Neal had 8 Rebs? Wow!
    TP, TD and G-Hill were the only ones that shot well with more than 5 attempts.
    I love this team!
    What’re the odds that Pop’s been playing some possum with Tiago and now that the New Year’s here, he’s gonna spring him on the League and REALLY let this team rock and roll to and through the playoffs?
    And Dice got to sit and we still don’t have Neo (Mr. Anderson) back yet? I think the rest of the West had better take notice that they’ve been served!

  • TD = Best EVER

    I only caught the 4th Qt but liked what I saw on the stat sheets……..It appeared that we got Blair and Splitter some minutes and shots early and that they both responded well with Hustle and energy. Splitter made some good moves in the 4th.

    Great game all around – If you noticed how early the Thunder gave up. Making a lot of shots doesn’t do that…..that’s why people always have their starters in the game down by 15-20 on the SUNS or NY…… But Defense just makes the other team give up and fall into a depressive state and just throw in the towel.

    Best game of the Year – Offense and Defense on full display!!!

  • NYC

    In other news, Dallas just dropped one to the Bucks, Barea goes off (but never against SA; I’m still not impressed), and Ian Mahinmi still committing bone-headed turnovers/fouls.

  • mac

    Ibaka will be an All-Star caliber player in two years (he should be getting 34MPG right now) with Jeff Green elsewhere or coming off the bench to back up Durant. However, nobody has a better bench than these San Antonio Spurs, and that includes Matt Bonner who is continuing to prove that hard work pays off as he confidently displays a more dimensional game this season.

    Nice game, Timmy.

    Let’s take this show on the road!

  • LPspursFan

    yeah, with each additional win it becomes harder and harder to not give 29-4 the respect it deserves. I don’t care if you played the Clippers, Sacramento and Toronto 33 times you might not be 29-4. 29-4 after 33 games is not an accident!
    And when we win games handily like against LA and like OKC tonight, I just don’t get how the national media isn’t jumping on the Spurs bandwagon feet first!
    Oh well, like always, I’ll be happy just winning the title and letting the fact that Spurs are the last team standing do the talking.

  • td4life

    How good will our bench squad be when Anderson brings his 3&D to a join Hill and RealDeal in the lineup? I freaking love George freaking Hill.

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