Oklahoma City Thunder: Breaking down the Thunder-Spurs matchups

Darnell Mayberry takes a closer look at the matchups for the Western Conference Finals.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: May 17, 2014
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EDGE: Duncan.

SIXTH MAN

REGGIE JACKSON VS. MANU GINOBILI

ANALYSIS: Jackson has been wildly inconsistent this postseason, which has made him unpredictable. Ginobili, meanwhile, has had his own struggles in these playoffs but they’ve mostly been his errant shooting. He’s still orchestrating his offense when running with the second team, rebounding and defending. If he finds his shooting touch, and Jackson continues to be erratic, the Thunder could be in trouble.

EDGE: Ginobili.

PERIMETER BENCH

ANALYSIS: For the Thunder, it’s Jackson, Derek Fisher and Caron Butler. For the Spurs, it’s Ginobili, Patty Mills and Marco Belinelli, a trio that averages 27.8 points as part of a second unit that is the best in basketball. Two of the Thunder’s primary perimeter reserves — Butler and Fisher — are shooting less than 31 percent in the postseason. If OKC’s reserves don’t find their shooting touch, they’ll need to find a way to disrupt the rhythm of San Antonio’s scoring threats. If that doesn’t happen, San Antonio could seize control of contests each time the respective benches check in.

EDGE: Spurs.

INTERIOR BENCH

ANALYSIS: Steven Adams is proving to be a one-man wrecking crew that’s deserving of more minutes. He changed the game with his activity in Game 6 against the Clippers. And with Ibaka out, he’ll probably get the minutes he deserves. Nick Collison should also help keep the Thunder afloat, and Perry Jones III could be a nice change of pace that keeps the Spurs off balance. San Antonio doesn’t have much behind Boris Diaw in terms of bigs. So you would think OKC should be able to control the paint fairly easily here.

EDGE: Thunder.

COACHES

SCOTT BROOKS VS. GREGG POPOVICH

ANALYSIS: The last time these two met in the postseason Brooks got the better of Popovich, who watched his team lose four straight after taking a 2-0 series lead. Popovich never found a counter for Thabo Sefolosha on Tony Parker, and didn’t have an answer for James Harden. Of course, the Thunder had a more talented roster then, and the Spurs’ were relying on relatively inexperienced role players. The Thunder’s advantage isn’t as sizable this time around, and now that the playing field has been leveled you have to go with the coach with four championships.

EDGE: Popovich.

HOME COURT

CHESAPEAKE ENERGY ARENA VS. AT&T CENTER

ANALYSIS: This one’s essentially a toss-up. Both teams have been known to be dominant at home. But both teams have had hiccups in their buildings this season. San Antonio got its home struggles out of the way early. The Spurs are 6-1 in this postseason and have lost only one other time at home since the All-Star break. It was a meaningless season finale that San Antonio essentially conceded to the Lakers. The Thunder is 4-3 at home this postseason and 15-7 inside The Peake since the All-Star break. The latter mark has included three straight losses, four by double digits and two by 20 points or more.

EDGE: AT&T Center.

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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