Gamethread Tonight at 7:30, come and discuss the game! Also be sure to check out the LIVE Spreecast we'll be running at 6:30 tonight!
After what has seemed like an eternity of waiting, the Thunder are well-rested and ready to resume their playoff run. Their selected opponent are the Spurs, who, as you all know, haven't lost a game in the playoffs yet. GET PSYCHED!
What can we expect from Game 1? Well, it's pretty much the statement game for both teams. If the Spurs come out and win, they've set the tone for the series and the Thunder will constantly working to play catch up. If the Thunder win, people starts raising eyebrows and casting doubts.
The main battle will be waged in three point land. The Spurs are the NBA's best shooting team from beyond the arc, and the Thunder have been known to shoot themselves in the foot with some bad attempts. I'd really like to see a team of Fisher, Harden, and Cook light it up from three at some point during the second or third, but whether they'll be allowed minutes together is anyone's guess.
Another thing to keep an eye on will be how often the Thunder go small. The Spurs are fond of playing their bigs, but there will probably be a point when there's only one big on the floor for each team. It has worked for the Thunder before, but it largely rests on hitting threes and running the break, both of which are difficult tasks against the Spurs.
But the biggest story of tonight will be Parker against Westbrook. They're two of the best scoring guards in the league, but they still represent a nice contrast in styles. Parker lets the offense flow through him, and generally runs around for open shots and layups because he doesn't have the physical tools to score on the league's bigger PGs directly. Westbrook, on the other hand, looks to score almost every time he has the ball, and he's not afraid to take you to the hole or take a shot in your face with no help at all. Personally, I think that Westbrook's style will backfire since the previous two matchups for the Thunder have featured weaker PGs, but we won't know for sure until tonight.
Lastly, the Duncan-Perkins matchup will be interesting. Perkins successfully kept Duncan out of the paint during the regular season an effectively frustrated him, but Duncan was able to get mid-range shots pretty darn easily. He ended up finishing below his averages in most areas. However, Duncan has performed significantly better in the playoffs, so it will be interesting to see if he can kick it up a notch against Perk.
Anyway, I honestly think the Spurs will win this game relatively easily. They have a number of matchup advantages that I've detailed here, and the Thunder will need a litmus test before they can adjust and find out what works. Still, I hope that we can make a huge statement and take game one.
Prediction: San Antonio Spurs 104, Oklahoma City Thunder 98