The Margin: Oklahoma City Thunder 102, San Antonio Spurs 82

by

We hope by now you know how it goes when we decide to do the margin. One talking point for every point differential in the final score. I didn’t feel like doing an El Conclusion tonight, so here we go.

  • Tim Duncan had only two rebounds. As Aaron McGuire noted in our postgame show, Duncan has been shooting terribly against the Thunder all season, but his rebounding can’t be so bad. It has to be better in Game 4.
  • It was expected that the Thunder would come out with the energy that they did, but it’s on the Spurs to make the plays over the course of the game to bring them back down. That didn’t happen.
  • The Spurs lost the second quarter 32-17. They were within striking distance in every other quarter, but that second quarter gave the Thunder an advantage the Spurs were never able to close in on.
  • Milk carton: Danny Green
  • Tim Duncan became the all-time playoff shot blocking leader, overtaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Although, as many noted on Twitter, the NBA didn’t start officially recognizing blocked shots until 41 games into Kareem’s playoff career. The Spurs just couldn’t get any positive momentum tonight.
  • Nothing sums up the night better than this.
  • Boris Diaw had an extremely limited impact on Game 3. Honestly, I’m not completely sure why. I’ll have to watch the game to get a closer look, but the fact that I don’t remember when he was in the game and when he wasn’t usually isn’t a good sign.
  • Despite how bad it looked, the Spurs don’t need to shake things up. Simple adjustments and an improved effort should be enough to beat the Thunder. You don’t make wholesale changes to a team that just won 20 games in a row.
  • That includes playing DeJuan Blair. There were many problems in Game 3 and DeJuan Blair is the solution to none of them.
  • It is a concern that the Spurs shot over 40% from 3-point range and the Thunder shot less than 30%, and OKC still won.
  • The Thunder made their living shooting inside, outscoring the Spurs 44-24 in the paint. I’m sure many people will give you that stat tonight and tomorrow. It was kind of important considering how the Spurs made their living over the previous 20 games.
  • The Spurs had a OffRtg of 89.5 and a DefRtg of 111.5. These are both terrible numbers. To me, they’re signs of being completely outplayed in one game, not necessarily something systemic that the Thunder have figured out. (Stats courtesy of NBA.com)
  • That said, Gregg Popovich and Co. need to figure out how to free Tony Parker from Thabo Sefalosha and give Tony some driving and passing lanes.
  • The Thunder hoisted 12 more shots than the Spurs did. This was in part due to the 21 turnovers the Spurs committed. I’ve said before that the Spurs’ offense can be prone to stretches of turnovers because of its necessary timing and spacing. Just a few fewer turnovers and handful more shots could’ve made this game more competitive going into the fourth quarter.
  • Because the Spurs rely on so many young role players, they’re subject to more fluctation in performance than we may remember from past title teams. Those teams relied heavily on veteran players like Robert Horry, Steve Kerr and Kevin Willis. So you can excuse Kawhi Leonard’s 15 minutes tonight (he did get six rebounds, however) and Gary Neal’s 3-11 shooting. They need to bounce back in Game 4.
  • I’m trying to think of a single play where the Spurs ran a pick-and-roll with Tiago Splitter to perfect execution. I got nothing.
  • No stretches of sending Tiago Splitter to the line intentionally, but with the way the Thunder were rolling there was no need to.
  • I don’t expect to see any major changes in Game 4, just better effort.
  • Stephen Jackson shot the ball well but had four turnovers. I was kind of curious why he didn’t guard Kevin Durant as much in Game 3 as he did in Game 1. Danny Green spent a lot of time on KD when Kawhi Leonard was out of the game.
  • I’m feeling like the Spurs win a very close Game 4. It could be the game this series is defined and remembered by.
  • Tyler

    Coincidentally, just came across this article on Grantland:

    http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7993947/club-trillion-gets-wasted-indy-500 

  • Tessa

    Perkins is a pretty brutal matchup for Tim in the post at this stage of his career. When he has Ibaka on him he can take advantage, but defending in the post is pretty much what Perkins does. Tim’s advantage over Perkins is mobility, which is why it should be all about the pick and roll when they’re matched up.

    When the P&R game breaks down with Perkins on Tim, 4 Down just isn’t going to get it done. So what we needed to be doing was swinging the ball around and making them pay with outside shooting. That didn’t happen either — our shooters couldn’t get it going.

    So that’s plans A, B, and C that didn’t pan out. Perkins on Tim is going to continue to be a bad matchup for Tim in the post, so for game 4, we either need to find holes in their pick and roll defense or we need to start hitting our shots.

    Correspondingly, we also need to do a better job on defense. And even if we’re having trouble with the way they’re defending, we need to do a better job of holding on to the ball and not giving them easy transition baskets. Even if our offense continues to struggle, if we can do a better job of slowing them down, we’ll at least still be in the games instead of being blown out.

  • OKC fan

    Please do not let your Boston experience dictate what you think about OKC or any city for that matter. I bet SA is just like Detroit right?…sarcasm. Surely you know the common stereotype that the Northeast is not as friendly as the South & Midwest. :)

    Please come to a game in OKC. We are very loud and passionate about our team, but not hostile in any sense. Experiencing that environment is impressive. I traveled to Dallas for last years WCF and this years game 4 of the 1st round. They were hospitable and a fun bunch to experience a game with, but the energy was no where near what you experience in OKC. I would happily attend a game in SA if I could and would expect it to be an overall enjoyable experience.

    Yes, we boo at officials. That is what fans do. Especially, bad calls/no calls that the visiting TV announcers are questioning. The only player we have truly despised is Ron Artest (MWP). Players bumping, shoving and mouthing are part of the game. Elbows are not. Fans in any arena will boo the best players because they are that good, but that is as far as it goes.

    I am disappointed that you write off this game as the referees being intimidated and therefore calling it in OKC’s favor. As far as the basketball game goes, the game got flipped from the first two. SA was forced to settle for jumpers because of the D and OKC was [ finally ] attacking the rim. As for the referees and your statement, “It was a mugging all made possible by the
    intimidation of those fans. These were young referees, I did not
    recognize the names.”, let me give you the veteran referee lineup for game 3.

    Dan Crawford – 27 year vet
    Bill Spooner – 22 year vet
    Derrick Stafford – 19 year vet

    Don’t get me wrong. I am not a fan of the officiating this season. I hate to agree with Mark Cuban, but the refs this season are flat out horrible. The worst I’ve ever seen. I think there has to be some sort of system to keep them accountable. Improving overall performance and to stop handing out T’s like candy. I’m thinking the NBA should refund all fines associated for referee criticism. That’s just me.

    OK. I think I’m done. As a big time OKC fan I am excited about this series. Both teams breezed through the first two rounds. I expected to see a 6 or 7 game series, and hopefully we do. We in OKC have much respect for SA. True competitors want to go through the best teams to succeed and that is what we have here 1 & 2 duking it out. Enjoy the rest of the series and hopefully the winner will take the championship.

  • Bob

     Exactly. The Clippers were also agressive against Parker and Diaw then became the secondary playmaker. I think the Spurs need to do something similar. There’s no point in forcing the issue if they are focusing so much on Parker.

  • theghostofjh

    That’s what I’ve been saying for a LONG time about the Bonner/Blair minute controversy. The fact is, Pop loves Bonner, and is paranoid about Blair, and ultimately it could cost us in this series.

  • theghostofjh

    And simply matching their energy, intensity, and physicality. Playing Bonner 20 mpg. doesn’t help with any of that.

  • theghostofjh

    No, the tempo wasn’t the problem.

  • theghostofjh

    And what is Bonner’s career percentage from 3-point land in the playoffs?

  • AD

    The fact it was a blow reassured me…they can’t be that bad twice..and not in a row anyway…pride reaction from OKC

  • theghostofjh

    You have to go with brisk ball movement, sharp cutters, and solid interior passing. And stop making lazy, careless, and predictable passes. BE MORE AGGRESSIVE, and shoot with confidence and resolve.

  • theghostofjh

    If game 3 was any indication of how the Thunder are going to play heading forward, there is a simple reason why you must give Blair some run: He can help us better match the energy, intensity, disruptiveness, and physicality of the Thunder. Bonner has not, and cannot, provide that.

    By the way, Blair has ZERO turnovers in about 60 minutes of game time in these playoffs.

  • theghostofjh

    We need our best passers, best ball-handlers, best cutters, best finishers, some confident spot-up shooters, and most energetic and physical players in the game. We need crisp ball move, constant cutters, and taking guys off the dribble on 3-point close-outs. NONE of these qualities matches Bonner very well in this series. Blair should be worked into the mix in place of Bonner, as long as Blair watches his turnover and foul rates.

  • A_BIRDY_TOLD_ME

    When I read the script the NBA  had OKC winning game three, San Antonio winning game four, and OKC is schedule to win game five. This was all the information I was able to get. I’m assuming that the rating will dictate the winner for the remaining games.

  • A_BIRDY_TOLD_ME

    When I read the script the NBA  had OKC winning game three, San Antonio winning game four, and OKC is schedule to win game five. This was all the information I was able to get. I’m assuming that the rating will dictate the winner for the remaining games.

  • STIJL

     Counting on Bonner in a playoff game has proven to be futile.  Others on the team ARE proving to be more dependable at the attempts.  Bonner has got to be relinquished to end of bench in a blowout situation for the Spurs.  Take away the pressure of “HAVING” to produce and Bonner does fine.

    Jack, Ginobili and Neal on the court at the same time creating spacing will do more good than having Bonner on the floor.  They in the least have the ability to be good distributors/passers/creators if the Thunder are closing out.  Post players in that situation could be Splitter and Blair.  Both of whom are excellent passers in the post.

    But the most demanding aspect has got to be Duncan being able to produce and keep the Thunder honest around the rim.  Right now the Thunder are playing the passing lanes in the half way area between post and 3 point line.  Their length/speed and agility is what’s causing the T/O’s.  The Bigs on this team need to receive their passes further from the basket and attack as the perimeter players do to the basket.  This will either force fouls / opportunities for our perimeter players because their man playing off towards our bigs / and/or disrupt their spacing while also creating pick and roll moves from the opposite side of the court.  None of these being something Bonner has ever been able to do.

    That and as theghostofjh mentioned…”And simply matching their energy, intensity, and physicality. Playing Bonner 20 mpg. doesn’t help with any of that.”

  • Ace Smith

    I personally think that the thunder will e keeping this up, the first night htey have a good game they blow out the spurs and actually even without their main stars scoring a lot!! I think this is a lock as well as a lock that durant will be hot tonight! i wrote all about it on my blog so come check it out! http://nbawagers.com/2012/06/can-anyone-say-2-in-a-row/

  • TD BestEVER

    It’s simple….. We were winning after 1 and the 2nd unit basically laid an egg…… NOT ALL OF Them but Neal and Bonner both got off to really bad starts and then the 2nd unit was doomed………

    Neal will get a pass because he has been playing well and this was his 1st bad game in a while…..

    Bonner has been sucking it up for a while and last night was the final straw…..WHY is he on our team again……..

    Atleast when Green went scoreless he hoisted up like 6 shots in 16 minutes…… He was trying to shoot himself out of a funk…… Bonner just sits in a funk and continues to stink for days on end……..

  • TD BestEVER

    Sorry Blair runs the PNR just as good as Splitter, Duncan or anyone else……. Splitter finishes around the basket BETTER then Blair, but Blair has a floater that extends his scoring range a little farther out……

    Bonner floor spacing is a joke and he can’t make ANYTHING HAPPEN on his own…… Blair can by crashing the glass and if you put Fisher on him he can score on Fisher all day long……

    For all his problems he has and will ALWAYS be productive from a stat sheet perspective……….. Bonner rarely is…… and the Spurs need someone who can score and board right now more than they need floor spacing……

  • TD BestEVER

    Bonner is shooting 0.329 in his playoff career  – Down from 0.415 in his career in the regular season…….So he has been chocking it down for a long time…….

  • STIJL

     I second that.  Blair must be given time at the expense of Bonner.  This team has 3 point shooters that can effectively change and space the floor just as well as Bonner…yet they are more efficient at distribution, defense, and/or penetrating than Bonner if the Thunder are focusing on closing out on the shooters.

  • Bob

     Tbqh almost no one shoots better or close to the same in the playoffs. Even  Steve Kerr’s playoff career three point percentage isn’t as gaudy as his regular season numbers.

  • Bob

    Tbh the Spurs got away with quite a few blatant calls.

  • Bob

     I agree it’s pretty bad to see them putting point guards on Bonner.

  • Bob

     Exactly. He needs to let the shots fly with confidence. Isn’t Pop the guy who insists on pulling guys if they don’t shut when their open?

  • Bob

     I think Pop didn’t have a quick enough hook on guys like Bonner yesterday. I almost think he didn’t care if they won because he wanted the streak to end.

  • theghostofjh

    Not true. The majority of the active career best regular season 3-point shooters either have shot better in the playoffs, or only slightly worse. None of the top 10 shooters with 4 or more years of playoff experience are any where close to Bonner’s 9+% drop.

  • theghostofjh

    Yes, good points. We have plenty of floor spacers. We have twice as many guard/wings that shoot the three well (and do other things) compared to any other team in the league. If they’re going to guard Bonner with a wing (which they should), please tell me what worth Bonner has for us against the Thunder?

  • theghostofjh

    What are you talking about?!?

  • theghostofjh

    I think your basic theory has a lot of holes in it. Why don’t you take some time to see if you can cover them up.

  • theghostofjh

    No, it’s more that he’s in love with Bonner, and has a deep-seated paranoia about Blair. No coach is EVER cool about losing any playoff game.

  • Misshellfire

    Yes, in general, we are respectful; it’s the foundation on which the Spurs organization is built.  I’m a season ticket holder and attend most home games.  The crowd is pretty family oriented; the Baseline Bums are in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, and not spitting or pouring on anyone these days.  We do have the occasional drunken altercation, but it’s not the norm.  I personally do not boo other teams’ players, with the exception of the Lakers (because everyone knows that they’re a bunch of thugs).  I love when the opposing team’s fans come to the AT&T Center; it makes for a more interesting experience.  We have the greatest respect for the young and exceptional OKC team; we’re just believe that this isn’t their year.  Timmy NEEDS number 5!!!

  • Misshellfire

    VSF, I’ve seen several interviews with Spurs players who say they love playing in the louder arenas, particularly OKC and Memphis.  They say that instead of being bothered by the noise, it excites them and pumps them up.  SJax mentioned that it’s the ultimate compliment to be booed in an opposing arena.  He’s a keeper, lol.

  • Easy B

    Watching the heat celtics game was somewhat reassuring regarding the spurs game 3 egg. As Timmy said – all that matters is winning those next 2 games.

    On an unrelated note, I heard that Beenie Man song “who am I” today. I think that is where Jack got the phrase “I make love to pressure” – it’s in the lyrics. He must be partial to a bit of raggaton.

    Looking at the Zach Lowe article at the point forward, and seeing how hard the thunder hedged into the paint in the last game, if they attack us the same way again, the simple remedy is for the spurs perimeter players to hit shots.

  • Vermont Spurs Fan

    What a thoughtful and well-written response. Thank you very much.