Game 3 Preview: Thunder set to make stand against Spurs

Wishful thinking. - Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

We've all had a few days to sit and stew over the results of the first two games. Despite that, there doesn't seem to be a clear answer to the Thunder's problems in sight.

2014 NBA Playoffs, Western Conference Finals
Thunder_medium_medium
@
Spurs_medium
59-23
8-7

62-20
10-4
May 25th, 2014
The American Telephone and Telegraph Company Center, San Antonio, Texas
8:30 PM Central Daylight Time
TV: Entertainment Sports Programming Network
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM/640 AM), NewsRadio 1200 WOAI
Injury Report: Serge Ibaka (Questionable)
Previous Matchups: Game 1 (L 105-122), Game 2 (L 77-112)
Probable Starters
Russell Westbrook PG Tony Parker
Thabo Sefolosha SG Manu Ginobili
Kevin Durant SF Kawhi Leonard
Nick Collison PF Tim Duncan
Kendrick Perkins C Tiago Splitter

We've all had a few days to sit and stew over the results of the first two games. Despite that, there doesn't seem to be a clear answer to the Thunder's problems in sight. It's true that there are many significant aspects of OKC's game that they could tighten up, and that there are strategy shifts they could make. But no matter who you ask, spirits don't seem high. Many national analysts are declaring this a different Spurs team, and everyone can see that the Thunder were thoroughly creamed over the course of the first two games.

Obviously, the one deus ex machina that could save us from this whole situation is Serge Ibaka. But as of now, his status is uncertain. He took part in morning shootaround, but is still listed as a big fat maybe for tonight's game. Nobody really seems to know the extent of his injury, and no one's talking about his status. Pop will undoubtedly be able to deal with both situations, but Ibaka's return would do wonder's for OKC's floor spacing, rebounding, and post defense.

Should Serge Ibaka not be able to go, there's a variety of options Scott Brooks could pursue at the fourth big man spot. Perry Jones III at the big man spot has been a huge failure so far, as he did little to exploit his offensive advantages and couldn't guard Duncan or Splitter. Caron Butler is an option, but his better shooting comes at the price of poor post play. KD will undoubtedly spend some time at the four, but limiting those minutes is usually a good idea. Thabeet is also there, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Lastly, Scott Brooks could go with just using a combo of Perk, Collison, and Adams. But they usually rack up too many fouls for that to happen, and none of those players have great endurance.

At the end of the day though, the Thunder will need more than Ibaka's best Willis Reed impersonation. Kevin Durant hasn't been able to get to the line, and has had problems contributing consistently due to overuse. Russell Westbrook is his usual reckless self, and needs to avoid falling into the trap of frustrated play. Everyone else needs to find some way to chip in their points, do their best to communicate on defense, and hope for the best. Everyone except Reggie Jackson. He can just keep on keepin' on.

Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 100, San Antonio Spurs 99.

What do you think of tonight's game? Let us know in the comments!

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