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Game 57 Pregame Primer: Thunder (34-22) vs. Spurs (24-31)

Game 57 Pregame Primer: Thunder (34-22) vs. Spurs (24-31)

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ESPN preview


6pm @ Chesapeake Energy Arena, ? Fox Sports Oklahoma

Projected starting lineups:

Oklahoma CitySan Antonio
PG: Chris PaulPG: Dejounte Murray
SG: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander SG: Bryn Forbes
SF: Lu DortSF: DeMar DeRozan
PF: Danilo Gallinari PF: Trey Lyles
C: Steven AdamsC: LaMarcus Aldridge

3 Big Things

  • Billy Donovan’s willingness to let Gregg Popovich and company indulge their midrange appetite dates back to his first postseason, when LaMarcus Aldridge feasted on two pointers all series long (which the Thunder won). That’s been the case this season as well, with the Spurs dropping from their second-lowest three-point attempt rate in the league (28.2 per game) to below the NBA’s floor by over two attempts (25.3) when playing OKC. Oklahoma City has also held San Antonio to what would easily be a league-worst free throw volume (16.7 FTA per) in their 2019-20 matchups. And yet, the Spurs are up 2-1 on the season series thanks to an otherworldly 116.6 ORTG. Both coaches will stick to their guns, but Billy is right to die if he must by his clear process-over-results advantage that’s mostly only susceptible to fluky shooting.
  • The Thunder finally got what I would consider a signature win against a legit playoff contender on Friday night, handling Denver behind brilliant play from Chris Paul. This is a lower stakes,  “take care of business” game against an objectively worse team. Barring a blowout, we won’t learn a whole lot from either a win or a loss in this one. Don’t overreact.
  • On the other hand, winnable games are still very important. OKC is good. CP3 is thriving and Russ is thriving. Who knows how long this vibe will last, but it’s kind of amazing how at peace Thunder fans can be about how the Westbrook era ended. But the playoffs have a good chance of being a rude awakening for Oklahoma City fans who think overachieving in the regular season is truly more enjoyable than having championship potential. If the wins keep coming at a high enough clip for OKC to snag home court advantage, making the second  round could become the latest unexpected expectation for this lovable squad.

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