The San Antonio Spurs are hosting the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight, just two days after they rallied with a brilliant fourth quarter when head coach Gregg Popovich told his team to “get nasty.” Oklahoma City was oh so close to ending the Spurs’ (at that point) 18 game winning streak. Instead, the Spurs were able to keep home court advantage and show the Thunder why they still have a lot of growing up to do.
That being said, the Thunder probably should have won game one, and the Spurs self admittedly have to play a whole heck of a lot better if they are going to win tonight. So without further ado, here are my five keys to a Spurs victory tonight.
- Manu Ginobili’s Production - Ginobili had the best game of his season in game 1, and will need to out-play James Harden again if the Spurs want a victory in game 2.
- Defensive Rotations - Defense was a huge key for the Spurs in the 4th quarter, when they followed the advice and “got nasty.” The Spurs clogged the lane and kept Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Harden, and Serge Ibaka from scoring bunches and bunches of points. The Spurs once again shall have to keep a massive advantage in the paint to win.
- Big 3 vs Big 3 - The Spurs Big 3 of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Ginobili once again showed Durant, Harden, and Westbrook why experience can beat youth and talent any day. The Spurs will continue to run the pick-and-roll to death against a Thunder team that had a fourth quarter meltdown, and will have to prove they can stop it. The Spurs 3 will once again need to outplay the Thunder’s 3 to win.
- Bench Play - The Spurs bench did not have a great point total production outside of Ginobili, but they did what was necessary and helped the Spurs win. Tonight, the Spurs bench will have to be even better. Players like Tiago Splitter, Stephen Jackson, Gary Neal, and others in the rotation will have to step up again.
- Consistent Play - The Spurs did not have a great third quarter at all and dug themselves a hole. For Spurs’ fans, it was thankful to end in victory that easily could have gone the wrong way. Tonight, the Spurs must be able to avoid long scoring draughts and low scoring quarters.