Morning all. The Spurs absolutely battered the Thunder last night, running out to a 43-20 lead after the first quarter, leading by more than 40 at one point, and ultimately cruising to a 124-92 victory. It was a comprehensive beating in which the Spurs were getting open looks off their pick and roll action at will, and making them at an absurdly high rate. LaMarcus Aldridge went for 38 on an amazing 18-23 from the field, while Kawhi Leonard just shot 10-13 for 25 in 22 minutes. The Thunder had trouble getting going, especially Russell Westbrook who the Spurs did a great job defending around the basket, but ultimately it was their defense that simply couldn't withstand the ball movement and shooting prowess of the Spurs.
Before we go too far, I remind you of the 2012 Western Conference Finals, when the Spurs, having won 10 straight playoff games, including the first two against the Thunder, proceeded to lose the next four and the series. Of course, all of those games were close while last night was a blowout, but still. One game doesn't decide a series.
The Spurs looked awfully good though. As if their 67 wins in the regular season were one thing, and they've found another gear now. Incredible.
Meanwhile, three more games today:
Hornets at Heat
12:00 pm CDT
Game seven of this first round series. The Hornets had a chance to win this at home in game six, but two big threes by Dwyane Wade helped Miami hold off the Kemba Walker led final charge from Charlotte, and the Heat get game seven at home. The Hornets have shot poorly in this series-only 40% from the field and 30% from three, and really need a hot game today, but Miami has defended quite well for the most part. For the Heat, Luol Deng has stepped up his offensive game in support of Wade, averaging nearly 20 a game and shooting 52% for the series.
Blazers at Warriors
2:30 pm CDT
The first game of this second round series and the Warriors will be without Steph Curry, who remains out with a knee injury suffered in the first round. It remains unclear when he will return, but with the break between game two (Tuesday) and game three (Saturday), game three seems a good guess. Which means the Blazers really need to take advantage in these first two games if they want to have a chance in this series.
In truth, the Warriors should have enough to win this even missing Curry for the early part of the series, and they had no problem dispatching the Rockets in games four and five after Curry's injury, but the Blazers will compete harder than the Rockets did. Ultimately the Warriors seem too deep and balanced for a Blazers team that is heavily reliant on their back court and three point shooting. Still, a couple of hot shooting games early for the Blazers could make this interesting.
Pacers at Raptors
7:00 pm CDT
Game seven in this back and forth series. The teams traded (metaphorical) punches in games five and six, with each winning at home. It seems to me there is big pressure on the Raptors tonight given their playoff failures of the last couple of seasons and their successful regular season. Losing in the first round again would be difficult to swallow. Their stars have not really risen to the occasion, and they will need to tonight.
For the Pacers, Paul George has been the dominant player in this series, averaging over 27 a game and carrying them for long stretches. He's also been a nightmare for DeMar DeRozan on the defensive end. The Pacers have held the Raps to under 40% for the series, and DeRozan and Lowry are at 32% and 31% respectively. The Pacers will look to hound them into one more poor shooting night.
Enjoy the games. Chat here.