After storming back from a devastating Game 1 loss to pull the series even at 2-2, the Oklahoma City Thunder look to regain home-court advantage against the San Antonio Spurs in Tuesday night’s Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals at AT&T Center.
Thunder forward Kevin Durant poured in 41 points, equaling his career playoff-high, and guard Dion Waiters and big man Enes Kanter chipped in 28 combined points off the bench in Game 3’s 111-97 victory to knot the seven-game standoff.
But the Thunder defense played just as pivotal a role as Durant and the bench’s scoring. Durant scored 29 of his 41 in the second half and Oklahoma City’s defense held the Spurs to a mere 16 points in the fourth quarter.
Kanter told reporters after the game that Durant’s work on the defensive end was equally important.
“I think that was the key,” Kanter said. “He was 6-for-6 in that last quarter but also brought a lot of physicality and energy on the defensive end, too.”
San Antonio’s Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, and LaMarcus Aldridge each tallied 20-plus points but the Spurs went 2-for-12 from three-point range, far lower than their 43.6 percent success rate during these playoffs.
"Guys wanted the ball and just didn't make shots. We never really got into a good offensive rhythm but we kept making runs," Aldridge said. "Guys kept making plays at certain times but we had a lot of open looks that we didn't make.
Still, the Thunder will have to not only hand the Spurs back-to-back losses for just the second time this season, they’ll have to beat them at home for a second time in this series for a shot at eliminating the 67-win team in Game 6. San Antonio experienced one three-game slide in the final month of the regular season, and suffered only one home loss all year.
Tipoff: 8 p.m. ET
TV Channel: TNT
Live Stream: TNT Overtime
Betting Odds: San Antonio -7 points
Over/Under: 199.5 points
Prediction: The Spurs should come out with a sense of desperation, knowing the Thunder could win the series at home in Game 6. Aldridge and Leonard should come up big on offense, while Danny Green provides a lift on the defensive end.
Predicted Score: San Antonio over Oklahoma City, 102-97