NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, May 31st (All times Eastern)
(1) San Antonio Spurs (3-2) at (2) Oklahoma City Thunder (2-3), 8:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The San Antonio Spurs are one win away from another trip to the NBA Finals, and they'll try and take that step Saturday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals.
The series shifts back to Chesapeake Energy Arena Saturday night where the Thunder have won nine straight against San Antonio, including two in this postseason.
"It's a tough place to play, and we've lost however many in a row there, and they're going to be fighting for their lives. All those factors altogether is not going to make it an easy game for us," said Spurs forward Tim Duncan. "But we feel we play the right way."
The Spurs moved within a game of a repeat appearance against the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals thanks to a 117-89 blowout in Thursday's Game 5. The Heat prevailed last year, but San Antonio owns four titles since Duncan and head coach Gregg Popovich united in Alamo City.
For the Thunder, this is the third time this postseason they'll face an elimination game. Since they're playing on Saturday, their success thus far has been unquestioned.
"We just have to worry about the next game," Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant said. "We're guaranteed 48 more minutes. It's been an up-and-down series but we have to find a way to come with it in Game 6."
They didn't "come with it" in Game 5.
The Spurs made 13 3-pointers and had six players score in double figures in Game 5's drubbing.
Duncan led the way with 22 points and 12 rebounds, while Manu Ginobili carried a bench attack that outscored Oklahoma City's reserves by a wide 55-26 margin. Ginobili scored 19 points, fellow reserve Boris Diaw netted 13 and Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard each had 14 for the Spurs.
After holding the Spurs to under 40 percent shooting in Games 3 and 4, the Thunder watched helplessly as San Antonio made 51.3 percent of its shots.
"We didn't have the defensive disposition that we've had the last two games," Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said. "We have to regroup and come back better in a few days."
Durant and Russell Westbrook finished with 25 and 21 points, respectively, for Oklahoma City, a far cry from the duo's superb 71-point dual effort in Tuesday's victory.
Serge Ibaka was limited to six points and just two rebounds in the loss.
The Spurs tweaked their starting lineup for Game 6, inserting sharpshooter Matt Bonner in place of Tiago Splitter, a traditional center. Bonner was not a factor, but the rest of the Spurs' usual reserves were instrumental in the strong start.
"It worked for a while," Popovich said. "I'm not too interested in talking to you about specifics about why things worked or didn't work. I'd rather have other people figure that out."
Three-pointers from Patty Mills and Green tied the game at 32-32 heading into the second, and Ginobili led the way in a one-sided second quarter with nine points on 4-of-4 shooting.
Ginobili's layup and 3-pointer had the hosts ahead by as many as 13 late in the half before Westbrook beat the buzzer with a deep make to pull Oklahoma City within 65-55.
The Spurs owned a 16-2 advantage in the paint in the second quarter, then capped the third on a 12-4 run to essentially put the game away.
With the score at 94-74 entering the fourth, both teams emptied their benches with Game 6 on the horizon.
If needed, Game 7 would be Monday in San Antonio.
05/31 10:29:29 ET