Where They At: Thunder
The Thunder are feelin’ themselves, hyping up the fan base enough to make delusional gifs like this in anticipation of a first-round matchup with the Warriors, without KD.
OKC has officially found its groove as a very good team, even without Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka, but they still don’t have a whole bunch of signature wins against contenders. Beating San Antonio in their house would definitely qualify as one of those. The reborn offensive juggernaut in OKC has yet to put up an impressive defensive performance against a good offensive opponent, and the Spurs--who gutted the Ibaka-less Thunder in last year's conference finals--are still as methodical and devastating on that end as they come.
Something weird: the Thunder are just about as close to San Antonio and the 6th seed (3.5 games back) as they are to their challengers for the 8th seed (they have a somewhat comfortable 3 game lead on Phoenix, 3.5 on New Orleans). A victory would be huge.
Where They At: Spurs
The Spurs' season has paralleled the Thunder's this year to a minor degree, and they have also finally found their way as the guys you never count out—like the action movie bad guy who just won’t die. They managed better when dealing with early season injuries, and now they’re at full strength, largely thanks to Kawhi being Kawhi and Tony Parker recovering from a long stretch of subpar play for him.
Rationally, this game should go to the Spurs. Gregg Popovich has a lot more tools at his disposal than Scott Brooks, on top of the tactical upper hand he has to begin with. But there might be one player in the league with the same delusions as the gif-making optimistic Thunder fans: this dude. Russell Westbrook, if you’ll recall, started Really Westbrooking in the first Thunder/Spurs matchup on Christmas. He flew into the 30-point, double/triple-doubles stratosphere he eventually occupied for the months following, overwhelming the Spurs and leading OKC to victory. I’m tempted to pick OKC, but I think they still have to prove they can win these kinds of games without their full lineup before we start counting on victories.
Prediction: San Antonio 111 Oklahoma City 107
|2014-15 NBA Season Game 72|
|March 25th, 2015|
|AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX|
|8:30 PM Central Daylight Time|
|TV: ESPN, Fox Sports Oklahoma, Fox Sports Southwest|
|Injury Report: Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison, Andre Roberson (Out), Aron Baynes (Questionable)|
|This Season's Matchups: Dec. 25 (W 114-106)|
|Russell Westbrook||PG||Tony Parker|
|Dion Waiters||SG||Danny Green|
|Kyle Singler||SF||Kawhi Leonard|
|Enes Kanter||PF||Tim Duncan|
|Steven Adams||C||Tiago Splitter|