As far as I’m concerned, the real report card on the Thunder season begins Saturday night in San Antonio.
So far, it’s an incomplete.
A decent regular season (I judge OKC by championship standards), but too many blown fourth quarter leads, and non-existent defense. Fifty-five regular season wins is great for most franchises, but the bar is set really high for the Thunder.
We’ll see if OKC can pass the “Pop Test” that awaits them in the second round.
Behind Hall-of-Fame coach Gregg Popovich, the Spurs won a franchise record 67 regular season games and went 40-1 at home.
That’s quite a feat considering San Antonio is the gold standard when it comes to organizations in the NBA.
Now, rookie coach Billy Donovan matches wits with Pop in the Western Conference semifinals.
Advantage to the grey beard over Billy D.
I think Donovan will be a tremendous NBA coach one day, he’s done a nice job this year making the transition from the college game to the pros.
However, this is Gregg Popovich we’re talking about. The man has won five titles. Quite a task for Donovan in his first NBA rodeo.
Can OKC beat the Spurs? Yes. It’s going to take an unbelievable effort from the Thunder.
Oklahoma City is more athletic. The Spurs are more disciplined and experienced. OKC makes mistakes at crunch time, while the Spurs usually close the deal.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will have to play out of their minds, superstar basketball and get some help.
And KD will have to do that when matched against Kawhi Leonard most of the time. Leonard just won NBA Defensive Player of the Year honors again.
Serge Ibaka, Enes Kanter and Dion Waiters will have to be major offensive factors for OKC to win.
That’s a lot to ask.
The Thunder has the talent to pull the upset in this series, but it’s going to require off the charts good execution.
That’s something I haven’t seen enough of from OKC, and seen it plenty from the Spurs.
Plus, San Antonio has that “Pop” guy on the bench.
Spurs in five.