Ways to Win: Thunder vs. Spurs Game 1

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs are a nearly flawless team. This will be a test for the Thunder to see if they can legitimately win a ring. Here are Game 1's Ways to Win.

The Spurs are good.

And it's not like they are a team full of All Stars and NBA 1st Team candidates.

The brand of basketball that Gregg Popovich brought to San Antonio has made the Spurs Finals contenders practically every year, and it has been that way for a while.  This season, the Spurs are even more dangerous than before.  Even with the slight decrease in Tim Duncan's energy and efficiency, he still plays like a star forward.  Manu Ginobili is playing better than last season's playoffs (that was a nightmare).  Tony Parker is still the reliable point guard that he was 8 years ago.  But what makes the Spurs so much more dangerous is their bench players and rising stars.  Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard are phenomenal defenders as well as offenders.  Boris Diaw, Marco Bellinelli, and Patty Mills can step on the court and make an impact like a starter would.  The whole Spurs team is full of players who play over 20 minutes per game, giving them the perfect amount of depth.  Popovich's Spurs are incredible in every aspect of the game.  It will be a real test for the Thunder, especially with Serge Ibaka out for the season.  Here are this game's Ways to Win.

1) Defend the three point shot

I know this was last time's Ways to Win, but I cannot stress how important it is to defend the three versus the Spurs.  We all saw what happened to the Heat with Danny Green last year.  Green was fire against Miami while he broke the record for most 3-pointers in the Finals. This season, the Spurs acquired Marco Bellinelli, another hot hand, and have other players who are capable of shooting the three like Mills and even Leonard.  In the playoffs, the Spurs have been shooting 38.8 percent from behind the arc, which is the league's best.  And while the Thunder did a fine job defending the arc versus the Clippers in Game 6, the Spurs are better shooters, by far.  In almost every game versus the Spurs during the regular season, the Thunder won by a small amount, but in nearly every game, the three point percentage has been deadly.

Wrong: Thunder focus too much on protecting the rim with the absence of Serge Ibaka and forget about the deadly shooters. The Spurs shoot their way to victory.

Correct: The Thunder contest every shot and play physical.  The Spurs are too cold to make any threes.  Thunder win.

2) Keep the energy levels high

The Spurs are nearly flawless.  They don't really do anything badly.  What the Thunder can do to win is to always have energy.  When OKC is energetic and pumped up, there is no stopping them.  If the energy levels are high and the Thunder play fast ball, Tim Duncan can be worn out, and the Spurs simply won't be able to keep up.

Wrong: Thunder miss some shots and play slow basketball.  The Spurs win by a landslide.

Correct: Thunder miss some shots but keep up the intensity and score from transition and patience.  Thunder win by a landslide.

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