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Thunder-Spurs Game 5: San Antonio needs to find its offense

Jun 4, 2012, 2:27 PM EDT

San Antonio Spurs v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Four Getty Images

San Antonio needs to find its offense to win Game 5 tonight, or this series will be over in a couple days.

It falls to the Spurs’ big three — Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili need to get free and penetrate the lane to break down the Thunder defense, Tim Duncan just has to play a better all around game.

It’s not that the Spurs offense was bad in Game 4 — they shot 50 percent and scored 112 points per 100 possessions. You look at that most times and say that’s good enough to win, you’d say the Spurs need to tighten up their defense. And their defense should look better in Game 5 because Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison are not going to combine to go 22-for-25 shooting again in our lifetimes. That was the Game 4 outlier.

But there is another bigger issue at play here — San Antonio can’t stop Oklahoma City. San Antonio’s defense has been good enough to win all season because it just had to slow teams enough and their offense would blow them out of the water. Their defense was good enough to take Chris Paul out of the equation and force the other Clippers to step up and they were not ready as a team.

Oklahoma City is different. They have maybe the game’s best pure scorer in Kevin Durant. They have the ultra aggressive, attacking Russell Westbrook. They have James Harden. They are going to get a lot of points every night one way or another.

If San Antonio is going to win Game 5, they need to get their offense back to where it was the first couple games. Which means Gregg Popovich and staff need to find a way to free up Parker and Ginobili. With Thabo Sefolosha’s long arms to start and Serge Ibaka on the switch off of picks, San Antonio’s driving lanes have been taken away. When the Thunder defense gets set with its long athletes, the Spurs are less effective.

Which is why they need to run — not fast break points but run drag screens and other sets early in the shot clock before the defense gets its bearings. Exploit the mismatches before the Thunder can recover. You are right that the Spurs don’t want to get in a pure track meet with the Thunder, but in the regular season the Spurs played at almost the same pace and were more efficient. They need to go fast.

For Oklahoma City, they also will need more from their stars — their role players will not duplicate that kind of scoring on the road. But the Spurs can’t stop Durant. Nobody can. And he with Westbrook and Harden will have to carry this team to be the first squad to beat the Spurs in San Antonio these playoffs.

Do and they will be on the doorstep of playing for a ring. But the Spurs have those rings and know what it takes.

This is going to be one great game.

  1. acdavis - Jun 4, 2012 at 3:35 PM

    I can’t wait for this game!

    I agree with you. The only other thing you should have talked about is that both coaches are doing some strange things with their rotation. Why is Fisher playing 22min/game and jacking up 8 shots/game?! Why is Blair riding the pine after a strong regular season and showing promise in game 3?

  2. mungman69 - Jun 4, 2012 at 5:26 PM

    Yes, I can’t wait for this game. WHY isn’t Blair playing? Is he injured?

  3. davidcl77 - Jun 4, 2012 at 7:40 PM

    They will. 7 games series with Spurs winning. On to whip the Heat. Book it, boys.

  4. jimeejohnson - Jun 4, 2012 at 8:24 PM

    Celtics just beat the Heat two in a row. LeBron I don’t foul out James fouled out! Spurs must win tonight, just like the Heat must win game 5 of their series. Thunder and Celtics finals not implausible.

  5. lemfax - Jun 4, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    Go Spurs. NOW or NEVER!!!
    TD you’re the man…

  6. pistolpete0903 - Jun 4, 2012 at 8:46 PM

    First two games; OKC were toast.
    After games 3 and 4; might as well as put a fork in SA.
    The opinions by the ‘experts’ are baffling.
    Jeez, these are well balanced scoring teams (their defense on the other hand leaves a lot to be desired) and will/should go to 7 games. Still willing to bet on the Spurs experience to get them through, but just barely.

  7. 11jlacy - Jun 4, 2012 at 11:52 PM

    Kevin Durant is the wiz khalifa of the nba cool allday.

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