Western Conference Finals Game Five: Thunder 89 – Spurs 117
There is no place like home in this year’s Western Conference Finals. For the fifth straight game the home team won in dominating fashion, this time being a 117-89 win for the Spurs. The blowout was San Antonio’s seventh straight win at home by more than 15 points, a league record that was previously held by the 1996 Jazz. If the Thunder want to stop that streak, in Game Seven they’ll have to win at home in Game Six on Saturday. If not, they’ll be headed home and the Spurs will move on to their second straight NBA Finals.
Tim Duncan was the dominating factor for the Spurs. Not only did he score 22 points, but he also pulled down a team-high 12 rebounds. Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green also contributed with 14 apiece as starters, and Manu Ginobili came off the bench with 19. Aside from a lackluster performance in Game Four, Ginobili has been a driving force off the bench, averaging 15.2 points this series.
The Thunder were led by Kevin Durant with 25 points and Russell Westbrook had 21. However, no player for Oklahoma City was able to get into double digits for rebounding, which may have been the reason the Spurs outrebounded the Thunder by 13.
Another troublesome stat for Westbrook is that he drove to the hoop just four times in Game Five. Westbrook had noticed increased production when driving in Game Four when he went 5-5, so he’ll want to get back to attacking the cup in the coming games.
On the other hand, the Spurs were incredibly effective when taking it to the lane, as 29 of their points were scored on the drive. The Spurs also went to the free throw line and scored a series-high 11 points from the stripe when causing contact on drives.
In order to try and combat the effectiveness of Serge Ibaka, the Spurs inserted Matt Bonner into the starting lineup over Tiago Splitter. While Boner didn’t score any points, he was influential in bringing Ibaka out of the lane and freeing up space for the Spurs inside. This was the 31st different starting lineup for the Spurs this year, the first with Bonner in the rotation as center.
You can check back with sportspicks.com before the series heads back to Oklahoma City on Saturday. In order to stay alive, the Thunder will hope to continue their nine-game winning streak at home against the Spurs. However, in only 15 of 70 series in NBA history has a team been able to erase a 2-0 deficit to advance. That’s a mark the Thunder found themselves at before tying things up with two games at home. Even if the Thunder can stave off elimination for one more game, they’ll still have to play in San Antonio in Game Seven.
The Spurs are 2/1 favorites to win the NBA Championship and the Thunder are at 19/5. These two teams have represented the Western Conference in the NBA Finals in the last two years and we are just a few days away from finding out who will be there in 2014.