San Antonio Spurs vs Oklahoma City Thunder: Lineups, preview & prediction 3/10/18
The struggling Spurs will be desperately in search of a much-needed win when they visit Russell Westbrook and the Thunder.
The San Antonio Spurs (37-28) suffered yet another tough setback in what has been a trying few weeks. They conspired to cough up a fourth-quarter lead in a 110-107 road loss to the Stephen Curry-less Golden State Warriors, dropping them to just 3-9 in their last 12 games.
On the bright side, LaMarcus Aldridge looked back to his best following an ankle sprain as he went off for 30 points and 17 rebounds. Meanwhile, five other Spurs finished in double figures. Dejounte Murray had a decent game with 14 points and six assists, while Kyle Anderson had 12 points, 11 rebounds, and five steals.
The Spurs will look to bounce back against the Oklahoma City Thunder (38-29), who had their most convincing win post-All-Star break with a 115-87 shellacking of the Phoenix Suns at home. Russell Westbrook had another strong night as he finished with 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting, with eight rebounds and nine assists in just 29 minutes.
Paul George added 21 points and Steven Adams had a strong all-around night with 16 points, 12 boards, three blocks, and two steals. Meanwhile, Corey Brewer impressed with 17 points as he was inserted into the starting lineup.
Three keys to the game
LaMarcus Aldridge – It was a promising sign for the Spurs to see Aldridge back to his best after tweaking his ankle a few games ago. The Spurs desperately need their All-Star big man to continue producing the numbers he had against the Warriors. And with a highly helpful matchup against the defensively challenged Carmelo Anthony, he should like his chances of doing just that against the Thunder.
Paul George – The Spurs have flummoxed George this season. PG-13 is averaging just 13 points on 21 percent shooting in two games against them. The top-heavy Thunder can’t afford another off-night from their second-best player if they want to topple the Spurs.
Spurs role players – Against all odds, the Spurs just continue to find serviceable minutes from just about everyone on their roster. Even Tony Parker has perked up in recent games to provide a decent spark off the bench. The Spurs will need that all-around contribution from their supporting cast against the Thunder, who have the superior star power they don’t have at the moment.
Matchup to watch
Dejounte Murray vs Russell Westbrook – Even though they rested Aldridge in one of their earlier matchups, the Spurs still nearly beat the Thunder at Oklahoma City due to Dejounte Murray. Murray had 17 points and 11 rebounds as he went toe-to-toe with Westbrook. The Spurs could use that level of performance again from Murray, who has done well since taking over as the full-time starting point guard.
Spurs projected starting lineup
PG – Dejounte Murray | SG – Patty Mills | SF – Kyle Anderson | PF – LaMarcus Aldridge | C – Davis Bertans
Thunder projected starting lineup
PG – Russell Westbrook | SG – Corey Brewer | SF – Paul George | PF – Carmelo Anthony | C – Steven Adams
Aldridge’s ankle looked fine as he dominated the Warriors in the paint. He had a similarly impressive night the last time he faced the Thunder as he went for 26 points and nine rebounds. He’ll be going up against Anthony’s shaky defense again, so don’t rule out a repeat performance.
On the OKC side, Steven Adams will be an interesting option. The Kiwi big man has been playing well of late, going for back-to-back 16-point games against the Rockets and Suns. He’s had similar success against the Spurs this season, putting up an impressive line of 17.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and 1.5 steals in two meetings.
The Spurs have been notoriously bad on the road this season, but as they showed against the Warriors, they can still be competitive. The Thunder also haven’t exactly convincing over the last few weeks, so they are ripe for the upset, even at home. Take the Spurs as 4.5-point road underdogs to at least cover.
The Spurs do score the upset on the road against the Thunder, 105-101.
This game will be broadcast nationally on ABC. Tip-off is at 8:30 pm Eastern.