Last Game of Homestand Set Against the Spurs
Date: February 11, 2020
Tip-Off Time: 7 p.m. CT
Television: Fox Sports Oklahoma
Radio: 98.1 FM WWLS the Sports Animal and the Thunder Radio Network
Thunder StatusTuesday’s matchup marks the fourth and final game of the Thunder’s homestand. The Thunder’s most recent matchup against Boston on Sunday came down to the wire as OKC fell in the final moments 112-111.
After a strong first half where the Thunder led 61-52, Boston began to knock down timely 3-pointers and convert the Thunder’s turnovers in the second half. Despite the second-half surge and combined 53 points between Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker, the Thunder still put itself in a position to win down the stretch. A 3-pointer from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and a block from Dennis Schröder put the Thunder in a position to tie the game with 12 seconds left. Ultimately, a steal from Marcus Smart with five seconds remaining squashed the Thunder’s chance for a comeback.
“We competed very well. I think defensively we played all together offensively as well,” said Schröder following the game on Sunday. “We lost by one point and, I mean, it feels bad but it’s still good to see that we just lost by one point.”
Opponent BreakdownThe Thunder face the Spurs for the third time this season on Tuesday but this time, on OKC’s turf. The Thunder’s last matchup with San Antonio resulted in a bounce back victory for the Thunder after falling behind in the second quarter. It took a stifling defensive effort and a critical flurry of buckets from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Chris Paul in the second half for the Thunder to come out on top 109-103.
Once again, the Thunder will look to limit San Antonio’s one-two punch of LeMarcus Aldridge in the paint and DeMar DeRozan on the perimeter. The guard-center duo combines for nearly 42 points per game but bring in some of the fewest points in the paint. Conversely, the Spurs thrive in the midrange and rack up the highest percentage of points from that area.
In that same fashion, the Spurs don’t shoot many 3-pointers and yet are among the league’s leaders in shooting percentage from behind the arc. Spurs guards Patty Mills and Bryn Forbes lead San Antonio in not only attempts, but percentage as they both hover around 40 percent from behind the arc.
Matchup FocusThe midrange will be a popular shooting area on Tuesday as both the Thunder and Spurs have a duo who thrive in that area. As previously mentioned, Aldridge and DeRozan lead the Spurs in percentage of points from the midrange but the Thunder’s Chris Paul and Dennis Schröder have made the area their bread and butter. Defensively, look for a Thunder squad who makes it a point to closely contest those looks for San Antonio. On the offensive end, look for production form the Thunder duo whose midrange J is as easy as a layup.
Stat to WatchTurnovers. Although the Spurs aren’t known for their ability to turn the ball over at a high level, they notoriously capitalize on opponents’ mistakes. This means the Thunder will need to take care of the ball and generate high-quality looks on offense. As the Thunder saw in its most recent matchup with the Spurs, a string of empty possessions is more than enough operating space for San Antonio to build a lead. The Thunder bounced back in the second half of that game by not only protecting the ball but attacking the paint and passing up good shots for great shots.
As a result, the Thunder only turned the ball over four times, a season-low and the second-fewest in Thunder history. It will take another highly efficient, low-error offensive performance from the Thunder to beat Gregg Popovic’s squad who averages the fewest turnovers in the league.
Thunder TrendBalanced Scoring. In the Thunder’s past two games, it’s balanced scoring was on full display. On Wednesday against Detroit, five Thunder players scored 16 or more points and on Sunday, four players surpassed 20 points: Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander recorded 24 points while Chris Paul and Dennis Schröder added 22 a piece. As a result, the Thunder has three players averaging 19 points with Chris Paul trailing not far behind with 17.2 per game.