(Sports Network) - Thursday night's battle between the San Antonio Spurs and
Oklahoma City Thunder will go a long way in establishing the No. 1 seed in the
San Antonio is 1 1/2 games ahead of the Thunder when the two sides meet in
Oklahoma City Thursday. The Spurs have seven games left on the schedule, while
the Thunder have eight to go.
It's basically a two-horse race at this point. The Denver Nuggets and Memphis
Grizzlies are both five games behind the Spurs and it would take a sensational
run and epic collapse to make that perfect storm happen.
The Spurs played at home on Wednesday night and had little trouble dispatching
the Orlando Magic, 98-84. Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard both missed the game
due to injury and Manu Ginobili will be out a few more weeks with a hamstring
Danny Green led the Spurs with 20 points, followed by Gary Neal's 16 and 10
from Tiago Splitter. Tim Duncan returned after missing Monday's loss to the
Grizzlies with a sore knee, but only scored five points in less than 14
minutes of action.
"It's always good to get the win first. Second of all, the rest will hopefully
help the team come tomorrow," Green said after the victory on Wednesday. "Guys
are sore and banged up a little bit. So, hopefully they come out fresh
There have been no updates on the health of Duncan, Parker or Leonard, but it
would be shocking to see them miss such an important contest.
Wednesday's victory snapped a two-game losing streak for San Antonio.
OKC has taken four its last five and is well rested. The Thunder haven't
played since a 109-99 victory in Milwaukee on Saturday over the Bucks. It was
certainly not a vacation.
"A lot of thinking, a lot of time figuring out ways to get better for the last
two and a half weeks of the season," head coach Scott Brooks said Wednesday of
the downtime. "Film, planning ahead. All we're focusing on is today's practice
and that was really good. We had a lot of scrimmaging and a lot of defensive
close-out drills. I thought it was good."
Against the Bucks, Kevin Durant (30) and Russell Westbrook (23) led the way,
but Westbrook was especially brilliant. He had his sixth career triple-double
with 13 rebounds and 10 assists to go with the 23 points.
Serge Ibaka moved past Milwaukee's Larry Sanders for the league lead in
blocked shots after eight against the Bucks.
Defense was the key for the Thunder. After allowing 37 points in the third
quarter, OKC clamped down and held the Bucks to 16 in the final frame of what
was a tied game.
"It was a very intense game, it was a playoff-type of game," said Brooks.
"Both teams just laid it out there. I thought our defense in that fourth
quarter made the difference."
The Spurs have won two of three this season with both wins in San Antonio. The
Spurs won five of their last seven in Oklahoma City.
The Sports Network