Who: San Antonio Spurs @ Oklahoma City Thunder
When: Friday, April 4th – 1:00 am
Talking Point: The Best of the West
Gregg Popovich has a monopoly of basketball expertise. While Erik Spoelstra’s Miami Heat and Frank Vogel’s Indiana Pacers struggle through the closing stages of the season, the San Antonio Spurs keep winning games, it’s just business as usual. It’s been business as usual since Popovich became coach in 1996. With the Heat and the Pacers going through their respective problems, and the playoffs looming, pressure is building on their younger coaches to find some winning formula.
Veteran Popovich has no such problems, he’s got the Spurs playing winning basketball at a consistent level. It doesn’t matter what players are in their line-up, whether it’s Tony Parker or Patty Mills playing at the point, or Tim Duncan or Matt Bonner in at power-forward, the system of execution remains the same.
Having Tony Parker on the floor really does make things a little easier though.
The Spurs have won 19 consecutive games coming into tonight’s matchup, and are sitting pretty at the top of the Western Conference with a record of 59W – 16L. Their opponents, the Oklahoma City Thunder, are second in the standings with 54W – 19L.
Make no mistake, these two sides are the best in the West, and are fully expected to contest the Western Conference Finals.
They have met three times already this season, with the Thunder winning all three. MVP-in-waiting, Kevin Durant, didn’t play to his own high standards in each game, but did manage 36 points against them on January 22nd, when Tony Parker scored 37 the same night.
The Thunder are playing back-to-back games, and are due to travel to the Houston Rockets the night after they host the Spurs. Coach Scott Brookes has confirmed he will rest Russell Westbrook in one of the two games. Westbrook has been on a minutes restriction since returning from surgery on that fragile right knee. When he is on the court, he doesn’t appear to be holding back.
The Spurs shouldn’t be lacking motivation heading to Oklahoma tonight. Firstly, they’ll be keen to extend that winning streak to 20 games. Secondly, allowing the Thunder to sweep the series against them this season wouldn’t be the best preparation for the play-offs.
If they do happen to lose, be sure it won’t knock the Spurs off their stride. Popovich will ensure they’re ready for the post-season, playing that beautiful brand of basketball. It’ll take something special to topple them, and only time will tell if Kevin Durant is willing to provide.
Joseph Carroll, Pundit Arena.
Read More About: Top Story