With a big loss against the San Antonio Spurs, can the Oklahoma City Thunder really play up to their competitor?
Saturday night, the Spurs hosted the Thunder at the AT&T Center and ended the game blowing out the Thunder by 30 points. With an end score of 92 to 124, Oklahoma City’s coaching staff admitted they have a number of things to improve on. Billy Donovan, the Thunder’s Head Coach, said, “We need to play better, all around, collectively” (NBA). There were so many errors on the Thunder’s part that scoring against them was not tough, especially for someone like Lemarcus Aldridge.
Aldridge was playing so well that Donovan also said in his post-game interview that, “They [San Antonio] got it going offensively and certainly, Aldridge was really really a challenge tonight with how well he shot the basketball” (NBA). Aldridge posted 38 points in the game as he consistently shot mid-range jumpers the whole game. It was decisive basketball and definitely one of the better offensive nights for the Spurs that lead to this kind of win.
Another Spurs player that got the spotlight, as usual, was Kawhi Leonard. Known for his explosive offense ranging from the three-point line to mid-range to layups, Leonard has been the driving force of many of the Spurs’ wins over the last two seasons. He was also awarded NBA Defensive Player of the Year both in 2015 and 2016 as his wingspan speaks for itself. His long arms get him steals and his fast pace gets him and his team easy fast break points. Posting 22 points against the Thunder, the Oklahoma City staff have a lot to work on before game two.
Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant and Russel Westbrook have to step it up. Beating the Dallas Mavericks in the first round was easy, and this last game with the Spurs showed them that San Antonio is not playing around. They have to start sharing the ball more and make more consistent shots. That means more mid-range shots from Serge Ibaka, more points scored in the paint by Steven Adams, and more sharing by Westbrook and Durant. Their team can win the championship, but it has to be their best game every game in order to win.
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