Records: Oklahoma City Thunder (7-2) at San Antonio Spurs (6-2)
Time: 6:00 PM Central Standard Time
Place: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
TV: NBA TV
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), Newsradio 750 KXL
Enemy Blog(s): Pounding the Rock, 48 Minutes of Hell
The Thunder finish up their back-to-back-to-back run of games this weekend by welcoming the stalwart San Antonio Spurs to the floor of Chesapeake Arena. The Spurs have also started out the season well with a record of 6-2. Despite the increasing ineffectiveness of all-time great power forward Tim Duncan, the Spurs continue to reinvent themselves. Last year they morphed into a more up-tempo team on the backs of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. This season, with Ginobili injured and out for a prolonged period of time, the Spurs have relied on Gary Neal, Matt Bonner, and a renewed Richard Jefferson to continue apace.
While we know that past performance is never a great indicator of future performance, it is worth noting that the Spurs handed the Thunder three losses last season and have had a mental edge on the younger team for years. The Thunder certainly have the talent to compete, but the Spurs have coach Gregg Popovich, Duncan, Parker, and decades of combined experience to understand and know exactly how the Thunder will play. I do think that OKC will need to adjust their thinking on how to beat the Spurs if they are going to prevail against them this season. Comparatively speaking, the Thunder do have an advantage at the guard position with Russell Westbrook and James Harden, so we will need to see if coach Scott Brooks places greater emphasis on their scoring opportunities.
Along with the experience differential, tonight's game also will likely come down to energy differential as well. The Spurs last played on January 5th, so they have had two off-days to recuperate while the Thunder have been toiling with Houston. I expect that the energy level is going to play the big difference tonight, and even if the Thunder can match the Spurs' motor, there is still the experience and coaching difference that will likely be too much given the situation.
I expect the Thunder will put up a good fight at home, but there are a lot of cards stacked against them tonight.
Prediction: Spurs 100, Thunder 95