It has been a surprising season for the Spurs and Thunder, to say the least.
The two most powerful teams in the West have found themselves deep in the conference due to injury. The Spurs hold an 18-11 record and the 7th seed, and the Thunder hold a 13-16 record and are trying to pick up the pieces from the disastrous start to the season. But that doesn't stop this Christmas game from being epic.
Kawhi Leonard is listed as out for the Spurs and will most likely miss the game, despite telling his friends that he plans on playing. He has been sidelined due to a hand injury that has caused lots of problems for the reigning champs.
Kevin Durant has been listed as out as well, but his status may change as the game approaches. Durant has missed the past four games due to an ankle sprain.
The best part about this matchup is this sense of revenge. The Thunder lost a heartbreaking series to the Spurs last season in the Western Conference Finals. OKC clearly wants to get back at San Antonio.
Westbrook vs. Parker
Like Westbrook, Tony Parker is back from missing a string of games. He recently exploded against the Clippers for 26 points on 61% shooting. Parker has been the epitome of an underrated point guard for years; his value is not realized until he is watched. This season, he has been shooting 64% from three in 20 games. Russell Westbrook has been playing at an MVP level since he returned from his hand injury. Averaging 33 points in the last 5 games, Westbrook has been trying to fill the void left by Durant but can't do it on his own.
The Westbrook-Parker matchup is always a fun one to watch. Parker usually outsmarts the young one, but Westbrook beats Parker with his explosiveness. Assuming both Kawhi and KD do not play, the Westbrook-Parker matchup will be the most interesting one on the floor.
Roberson vs. Green
Danny Green always seems to find the hot hand against the Thunder. But then again, he always has the hot hand. Green has been having another great season from behind the arc; he is shooting 44%. OKC had trouble containing the threes in the WCF. Sefolosha just couldn't deliver, which lead to numerous DNP-CD's. But now the Thunder have a new lock down defender by the name of Andre Roberson. Roberson is just a sophomore, but he plays defense like a veteran. He has already shut down Kobe (twice) and should have no problem keeping Green's threes to a minimum.
One of the many reasons why the Spurs outlasted the Thunder was due to the depth the Spurs had. Boris Diaw, Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili, and Marco Bellinelli are always at Pop's hand when he needs them and they deliver. OKC did not have that with their bench. The inexperience and immaturity of the bench players was exposed as the vets on the Spurs bench were able to give the starters a breather and perform just as well. Now, OKC's bench is a bit more seasoned and consistent while the Spurs are banged up.
Prediction: Spurs 99 Thunder 91
|2014-15 NBA Season Game 30|
|December 25th, 2014|
|The American Telephone and Telegraph Center, San Antonio, Texas|
|1:30 PM Central Standard Time|
|TV: Your local American Broadcasting Company affiliate (KOCO 5 in Oklahoma City)|
|Injury Report: Kevin Durant (Questionable), Mitch McGary, Kawhi Leonard, Patty Mills (Out)|
|Last Season's Matchups: WCF: G1 (L 105-122), G2 (L 77-112), G3 (W 106-97), G4 (W 105-92), G5 (L 89-117), G6 (L 107-112 OT)|
|Russell Westbrook||PG||Tony Parker|
|Andre Roberson||SG||Danny Green|
|Kevin Durant or Perry Jones III||SF||Kyle Anderson|
|Serge Ibaka||PF||Tiago Splitter|
|Steven Adams||C||Tim Duncan|