Oklahoma City currently sits in sixth place in the Western Conference standings with a 34-22 overall record. Meanwhile, the Spurs are trying to battle their way back into the playoff race after winning back-to-back games. San Antonio enters with a 24-31 overall record, 3.5 games back of the Memphis Grizzlies for the final playoff spot in the West. Can San Antonio keep its momentum going on the road against the Thunder on Sunday?
Spurs hoping to make late postseason surgeThe Spurs took down the Utah Jazz 113-104 on Friday night behind 23 points from point guard Dejounte Murray. Murray added seven rebounds, four assists, and four steals on the night while DeMar DeRozan added 18 for the Spurs, who shot 10-for-20 from 3-point range in the win.
Dejounte Murray lost Donovan Mitchell with a slick behind-the-back crossover and pulled up on Rudy Gobert.— Noah Magaro-George (@N_Magaro) February 22, 2020
It takes some kind of confidence to go at a pair of All-Stars and the back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year. pic.twitter.com/KqV2JE2xhd
While the Spurs will be fighting for a playoff spot over the next few months, the real barometer of San Antonio’s season is going to come down to the development of their young players. Murray has been a pleasant surprise of late, scoring 20-plus points in back-to-back games. However, Gregg Popovich and company should probably explore a backcourt pairing between Murray and up-and-coming point guard Derrick White. Both players are big and strong enough to defend multiple positions and Pop has shown some confidence by closing with them on occasion at times this year. With both players on the floor, the Spurs own a 99.4 defensive rating, which is 13.3 points better than the team’s season average. Lonnie Walker has also flashed his potential this season and could turn into a rotation player in 2020-21 and beyond.
Paul, Thunder excelling in clutch momentsOklahoma City came out of the All-Star Break with a 113-101 statement win over the Denver Nuggets in a potential first-round playoff preview. Chris Paul scored a team-high 29 points while Steven Adams had 19 points and 17 rebounds for the Thunder, who used a fourth-quarter surge to take control of the game. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 11 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists while Danilo Gallinari added 15 points in the win.
Vintage Point God shot.— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 1, 2020
Chris Paul getting it done in the clutch. pic.twitter.com/W16eviCtl7
As Oklahoma City has done so often this season, the Thunder took over late in the game against Denver. In fact, CP3 and company have been nearly unstoppable in the clutch. The Thunder sport a league-best plus-27.3 net rating in a league-high 38 games that features a score within five points in the last five minutes of regulation. They are 25-13 in those games with the NBA’s best clutch-time offense at 123.5 points per 100 possessions and Paul leads the NBA in clutch scoring with 128 points on the year.
It doesn’t stop there either. OKC’s crunch-time lineup of Paul, Alexander, Adams, Gallinari, and Dennis Shroder ranks as the best lineup configuration in the NBA with at least 150 minutes. They are plus-30.2 points per 100 possessions in their time together on the floor and 52.8 percent of those minutes have come in the fourth quarter.
- Spurs are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games playing on 1 days rest.
- Thunder are 21-8 ATS in their last 29 games playing on 1 days rest.
- Thunder are 19-7 ATS in their last 26 games overall.
- Thunder are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 games following a straight-up win of more than 10 points.