SAN ANTONIO SPURS
Attack the basket at every opportunity
The loss of Serge Ibaka is going to loom large during this series. One of the strengths of the Spurs is their ability to get to the basket. More specifically, it’s Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili‘s penetration that leads to a healthy percentage of their points. When Ibaka is in the way, the lane shrivels and the play crumbles. Without Ibaka, they might as well put a turnstile in the middle, because nobody on the Thunder roster will be able to stop them.
Steven Adams, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison are going to be the main guys playing in the middle for the Thunder. Do any of those names strike fear in the hearts of would-be ball handlers? Absolutely not. In fact, not only should the Spurs be able to get to the rim with reckless abandon, they should also reap the benefit of killing the Thunder on the offensive glass.
As the defense has to rotate over to help with penetration, it’s going to leave Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter more open to scoop up offensive rebounds. A few trips with those kinds of results is going to force Thunder coach Scott Brooks to instruct his defense to collapse in the paint…which will lead to more room on the outside for guys like Danny Green, Marco Belinelli and Kawhi Leonard.
All of this will happen as a result of going to the basket. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich didn’t get to where he is today by ignoring obvious weaknesses in his opponent. This one is glaring. The Spurs are going to hammer the Thunder in the paint over and over.