The Oklahoma City Thunder ended the San Antonio Spurs’ 19-game winning streak with a 106-94 victory on Thursday night. The victory meant that the Thunder swept the season series from the Silver & Black, but is losing the season series to Oklahoma City cause for concern?
Can we really take away anything from the four games between the Spurs and Thunder this season? There are a number of reasons that San Antonio fell to Oklahoma City and I have broken down all four match-ups below:
Game #1: Spurs at Thunder – November 27, 2013
In their first meeting of the season, the Spurs fell 94-88 as the Thunder snapped San Antonio’s 11-game winning streak. The Spurs shot 39.1 percent from the field and went 7 of 27 (25.9 percent) from 3-point range in the loss. Oklahoma City took over in the second half and outscored the Spurs 25-15 in the third quarter. Following the game, Gregg Popovich said his team was ‘frantic’ and rushing their shots. Thunder guard Reggie Jackson would also score a career-high 23 points in the win, including eight straight points to open the fourth quarter. This would be the only meeting of the season that both teams had all their players available.
Game #2: Thunder at Spurs – December 21, 2013
In the Thunder’s first visit to the Alamo City this season, the Spurs were without their best perimeter defender Kawhi Leonard who missed the game following a dental procedure. It was also Tony Parker’s first game back after missing the previous two with a shin bruise that limited his ability to drive the paint. San Antonio would be completing a stretch of three games in four nights after getting victories in Los Angeles over the Clippers and in Phoenix. Russell Westbrook exploded for 31 points, while Reggie Jackson lit up the Spurs again with 21 points. Parker struggled and finished with 23 points on 6-of-14 shooting and the Thunder outscored the Spurs 40-29 in the second quarter.
Game #3: Thunder at Spurs – January 22, 2014
The Spurs entered their third game of the season against the Thunder coming off two days of rest, while Oklahoma City was playing their second game of a back-to-back. San Antonio would be without Tiago Splitter (sprained right shoulder) and Green (broken left index finger). During the game, Leonard suffered a broken hand, Parker’s bruised shin continued to bother him and Matt Bonner had to wear a mask after breaking his nose. Westbrook missed the game after recovering from knee surgery. Without Leonard in the game, Durant went off and scored a game-high 36 points, while Jackson had another solid performance with 27 points.
Parker finished with a game-high 37 points, but did not get much help as Tim Duncan and Boris Diaw each added 14 points in the loss.
Game #4: Spurs at Thunder – April 3, 2014
In their final match-up of the season, the Spurs were playing their fifth game in seven days and were coming off the second night of a back-to-back. Popovich decided to not play Manu Ginobili and rest him and Austin Daye, Matt Bonner and Aron Baynes all sat out due to injury. The Thunder outscored the Spurs 32-20 in the third quarter as San Antonio committed 18 turnovers in the game. Durant finished with 28 points, Westbrook chipped in 27, and Jackson had 14.
Patty Mills led the Spurs with 21 points, while Duncan and Leonard added 17 each. You could tell that Parker, Marco Belinelli and Danny Green did not have their legs under them and were tired at times throughout the game. It was basically a ‘scheduled loss.’
If the Spurs and Thunder do meet in the Playoffs things would be a lot different. For one, Spurs won’t be playing their 5th game in 7 nights and 2nd night of a back-to-back against a team that had 3 days off. Second, Ginobili would be playing. And third, a potential Game 7 would be in San Antonio if the Spurs clinch the number one seed in the Western Conference.
While the Thunder are a great team, they are a completely different team than what they were in 2012 when they won four straight games against the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals.
You can’t look too deeply into the Spurs-Thunder regular season games because of so many factors such as injuries, schedules, etc. Even though Oklahoma City is a difficult match-up for the Spurs, the postseason is a whole different animal.
Let’s see what the playoffs bring.