OKC vs. SAS Game Preview – Discipline on Defense

It’s still early in the season, just the night before Thanksgiving, but tonight’s matchup against the San Antonio Spurs will be a high-level affair at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The Thunder and Spurs own two of the top three records in the Western Conference and both play an exciting, selfless brand of basketball. A veteran team with continuity like Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club understands the discipline necessary on the defensive end to contend with a team like the Spurs, who plays cohesively on both ends of the floor.

“They play no-agenda basketball better than anyone in this league,” Brooks said. “It’s going to be an exciting game. Both teams love to compete and both teams know each other very well. They have a lot of strengths and we have a lot of strengths. We’re looking forward to the game.”

The Spurs have made the most field goals per game, have the second highest shooting percentage from the field and the fifth-highest shooting percentage from the three-point line out of all 30 NBA teams. In addition, the Spurs average the third most assists in the league, proof of a team that moves the ball without worrying about who takes the shots. As a result, the Thunder must be prepared to defend with a full five-man effort on every single possession.

“They’re going to test everything,” forward Nick Collison said. “They want to get some sort of advantage at the point of the ball which is usually a ball screen. They want you to make a mistake there and help and recover the whole night. Everything is important. Being in good pick and roll coverage, being in your shell and being able to close out from the time of the pass, all that stuff gets tested when you play against them.”

“Just staying disciplined and never get discouraged,” forward Kevin Durant said. “We just have to stick with our schemes and not panic when they go on a little run or they make shots.”

On the other end of the floor, the Thunder must play with the same levels of communication, discipline and togetherness. With Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook as the catalysts, the entire Thunder starting and reserve units will need to be on the same page by getting to their spots early, moving without the ball and passing it with force to get the best possible shot.

“We just have to do what we do,” Durant said. “We have a lot of guys who can score, we have a lot of guys who can penetrate and create their own shots. We just have to move the ball. When we move the ball side to side and everybody is touching it and everyone is feeling good, we get the defense shifted a little bit, then at the end we can rely on the players that can go score.”

In the Notes:

- The Thunder went 2-2 against the Spurs last season, and overall is 6-12 against San Antonio.

- The Thunder is 6-2 this season in games immediately after a win.

- The Thunder is 3-1 in games decided by six points or less so far this season.

Broadcast Info:

7:00 p.m. CT. TV – Fox Sports Oklahoma, Radio – 98.1 FM The Sports Animal, Thunder Radio Network