Even though the Oklahoma City Thunder escaped with a win against the San Antonio Spurs in Game 2 of the conference semis, LaMarcus Aldridge has thus far established himself as the best player in this series.
LaMarcus Aldridge thru 2 games of #SPURSvTHUNDER
39.5 PPG | 33/44 on FG's (75% FG%) | 7 RPG | 2 BPG pic.twitter.com/J0g5yFOVKo
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) May 3, 2016
Aldridge hasn’t seen one matchup against the Thunder that he doesn’t like or hasn’t exposed, most notably against primary defender Serge Ibaka. The Thunder sent double teams at Aldridge at times during Game 2 and had some success when forcing the ball out of his hands. Dion Waiters commented to media about OKC being fine with Aldridge getting his:
Part of Waiters’ logic is absolutely true. It might even be an Achilles heel of the Spurs playing through Aldridge so heavily — if they’re so busy force-feeding him in the post, it stagnates their offense, taking away from the ball movement that makes them so lethal offensively. The only problem is, Aldridge is producing at an insanely high level when in the post.
Oh, you know LaMarcus Aldridge is just scoring 1.47 points per possession in the post in this series so far. No big deal.
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) May 4, 2016
In this matchup, I think I disagree with Waiters. I think Oklahoma City has their best chance of disrupting Aldridge and the Spurs by doubling him and forcing kick-outs. Sure it would test the Thunder’s discipline, which they don’t have much of, but speeding up the Spurs could work to the Thunder’s favor as it can help them harp on their quickness and athletic advantage.
This is something to watch for. If the Thunder feel comfortable letting Aldridge get his, they just need to focus on containing Kawhi Leonard and that’s the crux of the Spurs’ true scoring options. In that case, a stellar series from Aldridge could effectively lead to the team’s demise, that’s if the Thunder have what it takes to not let one man beat them.