Friday, November 2, 2012

The Feed: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. San Antonio Spurs [11/01/12]


The San Antonio Spurs escapes the wild Western Conference Finals rematch with a 86 to 84 victory over the beardless Oklahoma City Thunder. OKC just didn't look like themselves tonight. They struggled with their shots, scoring only 38 percent of their total field goal attempts. Much of the blame comes from Russell Westbrook who basically shot the his team out of the game, finishing with 18 points from 21 shots, cashing in only 6.

Kevin Durant led all scorers with 23 points and 14 rebounds, on a night where he checks off another career achievement, becoming the second youngest (after Lebron) to score over 10,000 points. Unfortunately, the Spurs decided to spoil his big day and with their defense, forcing 18 Thunder turnovers, one of which resulted in a Tony Parker buzzer beating game winner.

Tim Duncan abused the slow-footed Perkins in the post, putting up 20 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks with his museum quality preserved body. On the bench, Stephen Jackson chipped in 11 points and 6 boards, where as the newest member of the Thunder, Kevin Martin dropped 15 points and 5 assists.

Despite the terrible shooting night, Oklahoma City managed to hang in, in the fourth with free throw shooting and three pointers. The Spurs started early with a 11-0 run that OKC never managed to recover until Westbrook hit a few free throws to bring the Thunder up 3 points with 38 seconds remaining. Which was wiped off with a desperation 3 pointer from Tony Parker, leaving 28 seconds on the clock. Normally, Kevin Durant would be ready to put an end to the game, but two lazy screens and a bad pass from Russ, turned into game winning dagger from the French point guard.

Here is the play below, great awareness from Kawhi Leonard.

Tim Duncan might have perfected the Kevin Garnett moving screen on that play.

Offensive Set:

The Spurs rely on two main ways to score, if they can not run the basketball, the guards will usually look into the paint for the big man battling for position. This often involves Tim Duncan, who will either go to work or look for the open man (freed by a double on the post or a off ball screen). Their main offensive strategy is to run the ball. The point guard will draw attention from help defenders by attacking the basket, allowing an easy kick out to one of Spurs many three point shooters who are always ready to shoot. Quick fact: The Spurs outscored the Thunder in the paint 44 to 24, I wasn't kidding when I said they are a jump shooting team.

The Thunder relies heavily on Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant for the scoring load, and typically they will try to get a fast one in transition, which didn't happen much this game, with the Spurs annihilating OKC in fastbreak points, 18 to 6. Because Russell Westbrook is Russell Westbrook, he will usually look for his own first, using a high screen to free himself from the defender for his trademarked 16 foot jumper.

If that doesn't happen, the Thunder will set multiple off ball screens to cause mismatches for Kevin Durant, who will just use his length and height to abuse his defender. The supporting casts also get their shots from off ball screens, but a play is rarely ran for them. This is where they really miss James Harden, his ability to create offense and play making skills would have lifted some weight off the all star duo.

Defensive Set:

The Spurs is a solid defensive team, they don't really employ any surprises, but they rotate quite well. Against the Thunder, they only had to worry about two guys. Obviously Tony Parker cannot contain Westbrook, so San Antonio leaves the screener to prevent his jumpshot. For Kevin Durant, they can only hope for the best, Kawhi Leonard did a spectacular job early forcing the Durantula to cough up a few turnovers.

Oklahoma City's defense is anchored by Serge Ibaka, although he is a great help defender and shot blocker, he has terrible habits that allow opponents easy points. The problem with Ibaka as Zach Lowe pointed out in his Grantland piece, is that Air Congo tends to leave his man early in order to help, allowing his man to slip for an easy lay up.

The Thunder tried a ball handler trap a few times in this game, but it needs work. And for general defense, they aren't looking too good. They really like to clog the paint, which really hurts them against a Spurs offense surrounded with capable shooters.

Rookie Watch:

Sadly, Scott Brooks decided not to play either of his rookies, so we have yet to see what Perry Jones III and Jeremy Lamb are capable of.

The Moments:
  • Kendrick Perkins returning to his Boston Celtic roots with the weird tip off tricks, snapping the basketball to Russell Westbrook to begin the game.
  • I don't know if it is just me, or is Kevin Durant starting to bald, has a lighter patch of hair in the exact place where Ginobili has his famous bald spot.
  • In the best Inside Trax segment of the game, you get to see Scott Brooks telling Kendrick Perkins that he made a mistake and you never see Kendrick Perkins admit he is wrong, never, just look at his face, just displays pure displeasure at everything.

  • Matt Bonner are wearing New Balances again, despite switching to Adidas controversy.
  • Gregg Poppovich straight up ripped David Aldridge's spine right out of his body, which is completely normal and happens to anyone that dares to interview him during the game.
  • Nick Collison should get an award for best hair, because it looks well kept and slick through out the entire game.
  • Kawhi Leonard is slowly becoming the ultimate Spurs player, showing absolutely zero emotions. Tim Duncan has taught the young fella well.
Highlight of the Night: Tim Duncan taking us back to 2002 and just smashes the basketball in Ibaka's face.

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