From here on out it is a best of three between the Thunder and the Spurs. Every game is critical and each team is going to have to do something in particular to pull out the win. Lets take a dive into what to watch for in tonight’s Game 5 match-up.
The Spurs Have To Get Back To Moving The Basketball
Moving the basketball is one of the most important fundamentals when it comes to success. The Thunder are known for being long and athletic. When you have the length of a Kevin Durant, and the athleticism of Russell Westbrook, it makes it a nightmare for teams to face you. The Spurs moved the ball well in Game 1 which forced the Thunder to get out of position, make mistakes, and were eventually exposed to giving up easy buckets. The Spurs have tried to move to more of an isolation offense for guys like Kawhi Leonard and LaMarus Aldridge which has resulted in some spotty results.
Spurs Need To Face The Thunder’s Front Line Better
When veteran Tim Duncan is on the sidelines, it is tough to face the front line of the Thunder. Steven Adams and Enes Kanter are two big men who may not demand the offensive respect, but when they are open, it seems that the players around them seem to find them at the right time. David West came off the bench for the Spurs in Game 4, but he was exposed on the defensive end. When it comes to the pick and roll’s the Thunder ran, Steven Adams would be setting the pick and was guarded by West. Once Kevin Durant used that pick, the switch meant West was faced with guarding Durant one on one, which proved to be a disaster. The Spurs have to find a way to face this lineup better, or it will mean that the Thunder will have plenty more options than they normally do on offense.
The Coaching Match-up
When it comes to a coaching match-up between Bill Donovan and Gregg Popovich, most people would say that Popovich wins that match-up 10 times out of 10. Donovan, though, has held his own in this series. He has stuck to what he knows this Thunder teams succeeds with and that is up-tempo and isolation. The Spurs have not gone back to the ball movement like they had in Game 1, so it has been an even coaching match-up so far. Popovich will always get his credit, but Donovan deserves credit for figuring out this team so quickly and getting them to this point.