Thunder-Spurs Game 2 Preview: Harnessing emotion

Thunder-Spurs Game 2 Preview: Harnessing emotion

By Matt Moore | NBA writer
Kendrick Perkins has to stay out of foul trouble in Game 2 for the Thunder. (Getty Images)

Previewing Game 2 of the Spurs and Thunder Western Conference Finals.

1. Where We Are: Spurs lead 1-0 after they played relatively poorly for three quarters, then jetted by the Thunder for a 30-11 run in the fourth. Whether the effectiveness of the Thunder's defense for the first three quarters is sustainable will go a long way to determining if they can tie this series up headed back to the Sooner State.

2. The Big Number: .521. That's the effective field-goal percentage differential between the third and fourth quarter for the Spurs. The Spurs went from having a below-average shooting night to one of the hottest in the playoffs. If the Spurs shoot like they did the first three quarters, they'll lose. If they shoot like they did in the fourth, they'll win. Since neither of those is likely, which side of the teeter-totter between the two will determine the winner of Game 2.

3. Key Adjustment: Scott Brooks benched Thabo Sefolosha and Serge Ibaka for much of the fourth quarter, instead opting for an offense-heavy lineup featuring Russell Westbrook, Derek Fisher, James Harden and Kevin Durant. The result was a parade to the rim from Manu Ginobili. The Thunder can't win this game trying to out-score the best offense in basketball.

4. The Big Story: The Thunder know they missed an opportunity, and they're not happy about it. The Thunder play with a lot of emotion. That can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how they react to that anger. If they play focused and determined, it can be a good thing. If they play reckless, just running at the rim, they're in trouble.

5. The Facts: 8 p.m. EST tipoff; no significant injuries.
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March 27, 2017


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