Thursday night basketball action will include the NBA’s hottest team, and the front runner for MVP.
The NBA has had some major injuries this season that has crumbled their team’s chances. Joel Embiid for the 76ers, Zach Lavine for the Timberwolves, and most recently Kevin Durant for the Warriors. But, does that mean the end of the Warriors season? No, but it means the Spurs found their opening to go take the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
This Spurs team is hot right now, riding a 9-game win streak into tonight’s matchup. This streak has brought them within 1.5 games of the No. 1 seed Warriors and puts them in the drivers seat tonight.
Kawhi Leonard has been the spark during this hot streak, as he has yet to score under 2o points, averaging 29.8 PPG. Leonard and Aldridge both sat out last night’s game against Sacramento, and the Spurs still rallied for a 10-point win, 114-104. It is the strategic Spurs, coached by none other than Greg Popovich, that are yet again a dominant force in the NBA.
Oklahoma City however, will not give in to dominance. Russell Westbrook has put this team on his back, willed his team to a playoff spot, and isn’t quite finished yet. Currently in the No. 7 seed, the Thunder are only three games behind the Clippers for the No. 5 seed. It has been a bit rocky as of late for this squad, losing their last four games in a row to teams not in a playoff spot. It has become the Russell Westbrook show in OKC, but he needs help and fast.
The Thunder did acquire Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott from the Bulls recently and they are great assets to this team. Russell needs help scoring and McDermott has shown that he is capable of getting hot and scoring 25-30 points in a game. It needs to be a focused effort from everyone on the team to get together and make every possession count because there are too many times that Westbrook has thrown up a terrible shot and wasted possessions. Look for him to rack up a few more assists than usual tonight, but still find himself in the 30-35 point range.
It will be a team effort tonight from the Spurs to contain Westbrook and keep him under his 32 PPG average. I look for Kawhi to step up and guard Russ, as Mills and Parker are not exactly in their prime anymore when it comes to locking down a force like him. I think the Thunder will pick it back up here very soon, but not against the Spurs. This team is too hot and with Leonard and Aldridge coming off of a full game’s rest, they will be primed and ready to go as this team’s two leading scorers. Thunder make a 4th quarter run but Spurs by 8.