The San Antonio Spurs (46-10) finally return to San Antonio after a long Rodeo Road Trip to host the Oklahoma City Thunder (36-19) at the AT&T Center.
The Spurs will be looking to get back on the winning track as they lost to the Chicago Bulls before the All-Star break, 109-99. They will also be facing a tough stretch of games to close out the regular season with remaining games against solid teams such as the Thunder, Miami Heat, and Boston Celtics.
For the Thunder, they come off a win against the Los Angeles Clippers last night winning 111to 88 in Oklahoma City. They will also be looking to snap a five-game losing streak to the Spurs which includes two losses to the Spurs this season. The most recent loss was 101-74 loss in San Antonio in January.
To discuss tonight’s contest, I turn to fellow NBA blogger here at Bloguin Rob Kelly from Thunder Ballers. A fantastic, one-stop site on the Internet for all things Thunder. You can also read the Q&A I did for Rob by clicking HERE.
In this Q&A Rob talks about the Thunder maturing, if Oklahoma City can contend with the Spurs, and more.
Jeff: Now that the All-Star break is over, what do you expect from the Thunder heading into the stretch run?
Rob: The Thunder have a somewhat balanced schedule in the unofficial second half of the season. They are still continuing to mature and grow together as a team, and I see them remaining on track. I am obviously hoping that they can at least earn the #4 seed in the Western Conference, but could catch the Los Angeles Lakers for the #3 seed if they continue to sputter. Either way, home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs will be crucial.
The Thunder are second to the Spurs in wins after losses with a .833 winning percentage. Seems the Thunder are finally maturing or do you think this young Thunder team still needs more time to mature?
They absolutely are maturing at a decent pace, but still need more time. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are a great 1-2 punch, but they need more production from other players. Until that happens on a more consistent level, they may not be able to get to that next level.
How would you assess former Spurs GM and now Thunder GM Sam Presti’s job since joining the team?
Presti has done a nice job, as his method is definitely all about drafting and developing players. He is not about going out and spending a lot of money. I do feel as if this team will need another impact player or two – especially in the paint, but Presti is doing an admirable job to this point.
Earlier this season the Spurs held the Thunder to a season-low 74 points in a Spurs’ win. Do you feel this Thunder team can compete with the Spurs and upset San Antonio should these two teams meet in the playoffs?
Can they compete with San Antonio? Absolutely. I think that they can compete with anyone in the league today. Can they beat a team like the Spurs in a seven game series without home court advantage? It would be awfully difficult unless the games were closer together. The Spurs are much older than the Thunder, but if they have some days off in between games, they would certainly be the favorites.
The Spurs currently hold a five-game winning streak versus the Thunder. What does Oklahoma City have to do tonight to snap this losing streak to the Spurs?
They need to match the Spurs in backcourt play and hope to defend (Tim) Duncan and (DeJuan) Blair and (George) Hill. They will score their points, but the defense has had too many holes in it as of late.
Which team wins tonight?
Of course I have to say OKC will win. I just wouldn’t bet my own money on that one.