In case your brain hasn’t been functioning correctly and thought the young stallions over in Oklahoma City were going to lay down and die for a potential sweep, you were wrong.
The Thunder took Game 3 in a glorious fashion; 102-82 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
It had been 49 days since the Spurs last lost a game. They were setting NBA record after NBA record while making talented NBA squads look like a local rec. team. They were the skilled, experienced, veterans who were schooling NBA team after NBA team, they looked unstoppable. Impenetrable. Unbeatable.
Except the Thunder weren’t going to lay down and die.
They found the Spurs weakness: take them off of the pick-and-roll action, force them to play man-on-man (pause) and a team can beat and expose San Antonio.
Well, at least for this game.
Now, the Spurs lead the series 2-1 and set up, what will be, a Game 4 thriller in OKC on Saturday.
The Thunder finally treated NBA fans to the athletic, young, speedy team so many had hoped to see this series. Nothing could stop OKC’s offense as it looked like something or someone had taken a fire and lit it underneath the bottoms of the Thunder boys.
However, the MONUMENTAL difference between this game and the previous two, was the fact they exhibited defense. Fisher wasn’t in shooting 1-for-10 like Game 2 and Sefolosha was gifted more minutes. The OKC eliminated the Spurs ability to get in the paint in an adequate fashion, ball movement, and Spurs were forced into one-on-one possessions.
Yes, San Antonio has a flaw.
Spurs shot 39.5% for the game and had TWENTY-ONE turnovers and that proves what? Thunder had suffocating defense; they cut off the beast’s head for full exposure. Thunder had 14 steals — of those, Sefolosha had SIX — opposed to San Antonio’s two. OKC racked up nine blocked shots. The Thunder out-ran and out-worked San Antonio.
“I think they played smarter than we did, I think they played harder than we did.” – Coach Popovich
The scoring for OKC was evenly distributed as five players were in double figures: Durant had 22 points, Sefolosha 19 points including four three-pointers, Harden acquired 15 points on 50% shooting from the field, Russell added 10 points and Ibaka chipped in 14 points.
Popovich will make adjustments along the offensive side as they have to get back to ball movement. They have to use their experience, pace and half-court presense to benefit them and to weaken OKC.
San Antonio didn’t win 20 consecutive games without learning a game or two and because of this I expect Game 4 to be a thriller.
Plus, I can never go against Coach Popovich.