Time: 7:30 PM CST
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma
Losers of three straight and four of their last five games, the Oklahoma City Thunder (38-23) are on the road tonight in San Antonio — taking on the Spurs (34-29) with Paul George again sidelined due to shoulder discomfort. The Thunder remain third in the Western Conference, resting a half game up on fourth place Portland. The Spurs are holding onto the eighth and final playoff spot in the West, but enter tonight having lost three of four and seven of their last nine. Both teams need a win to help locate lost momentum for the stretch run.
Tip-off is at 7:30 PM CST and will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma. The Thunder are 4.5-point road underdogs according to Odds Shark.
- Paul George: Out — Shoulder Soreness
- Andre Roberson: Out — Knee
- Bryn Forbes: Questionable — Calf
- Dejounte Murray: Out — Knee
Thunder: Russell Westbrook, Terrance Ferguson, Jerami Grant, Markieff Morris, Steven Adams
Spurs: Bryn Forbes, Derrick White, DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Jakob Poeltl
What to Watch For
Snapping the Slide. The Thunder have had their opportunities in the current 3-game losing streak, and they’ve shown admirable resolve in mounting some late charges, but it’s going to take a complete effort this evening to snap slide. George’s absence deeply impacts OKC’s strength on both sides of the basketball — something Gregg Popovich will be eager to exploit. The Spurs took a 154-147 double-overtime win over OKC in the season’s first matchup in San Antonio, torching the Thunder on 16-of-19 shooting from long range. That happened with George on the floor, so the team in its entirety will need to step up in order to win in a building the Spurs have gone 23-7 in this season.
Russell Westbrook. Westbrook struggled offensively in Thursday’s loss to the 76ers, shooting 8-of-24 from the field (1/9 3P, 6/9 FT) en route to a 23-11-11 triple-double. While that sort of effort can often yield success when George is on the floor, the Thunder need a more consistent Russ while the MVP candidate remains out. George takes nearly 10 threes per game — some of those are naturally going to slide Westbrook’s way. But Russ is hoisting 9.8 per contest since the All-Star break ended, and he has to show restraint if they aren’t falling like on Thursday.
Know Your Role. In the absence of George, Westbrook assumes the scoring burden and away we go — but things get much easier if the Thunder can get role players to step up and show out. Jerami Grant was solid on Thursday, posting 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting (2/5 3P). Markieff Morris impressed in his first start, scoring 17 points on a 7-of-12 clip. But Steven Adams hasn’t looked like himself, and OKC needs more than 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting from him. Same goes for Dennis Schroder, who shot 4-of-15 against Philly despite having an increased scoring responsibility.
Stopping the Spurs. DeRozan leads the Spurs in scoring at 21.6 PPG and figures to benefit most from not having PG lined up opposite of him. LaMarcus Aldridge is next up at 20.8 PPG, and he roasted OKC for 56 points the first time the teams squared off in San Antonio. Aside from them, Rudy Gay (14.1 PPG) remains a threat and the starting backcourt can make you pay if neglected. Bryn Forbes is hitting 40.6 percent of his threes this season, and Derrick White popped the Thunder for 23 points in that double-overtime game earlier this season. Davis Bertans (46.9% 3P) is the sniper to watch off their bench.