A wild, up-and-down series could come to a close and so could the MVP year of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, unless the squad can find a way to force a deciding Game Seven.
With neither team able to win on the road, the San Antonio Spurs look to eliminate the Thunder in Game Six of the Western Conference Finals Saturday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Next up for either team is two-time defending champ Miami, which struck down Indiana in six games. A win for the Spurs would mean the franchise’s first back-to-back trip to the Finals.
Tim Duncan and the Spurs are up 3-2 in the series following another blowout in Game Five, with the future Hall of Famer pouring in 22 points and 12 rebounds and San Antonio going 13-for-26 from three-point range in the 117-89 victory.
Durant totaled 25 points and five rebounds while shooting 11-for-21 from the floor, and point guard Russell Westbrook regressed from his 40-point outburst in Game Four to 21 points and seven assists with three steals in Game Five.
The Spurs three wins have been by an average of 27 points, but they haven’t duplicated that success on the road. This postseason San Antonio is 2-5 away from AT&T Center and in contrast the Thunder are 6-3 at home.
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Westbrook’s inconsistency, albeit explosive when he’s on, hasn’t been the Thunder’s problem this series. Durant has yet to truly takeover a game against the Spurs. He’s averaging 24.8 points and 6.4 rebounds, both solid numbers, but Durant hasn’t come close to his 39-point, 16-rebound virtuoso performance in Game Six against the L.A. Clippers, or the 36 points and 10 rebounds he tallied against Memphis in Game Six of the first round that kept the Thunder’s postseason dreams alive.
All told Durant’s scoring average has dipped by nine points compared to the L.A. series, and five points against Memphis, and the main culprit appears to be trips to the free throw line. The Clippers surrendered 11 foul shots per game to Durant compared to only six trips a game versus the Spurs.
The Thunder must also find a way to contain San Antonio in the second and third quarters. Both sides have remained relatively even following the first 12 minutes of each game, but the Spurs have a significant advantage in the second quarter, outscoring OKC 104-73 and an equally punishing 84-60 stake in the third.
With Tony Parker’s scoring in decline after the Thunder inserted guard Reggie Jackson into the starting line up for the last three games, San Antonio’s second unit has countered by padding and building leads. Veteran forward Boris Diaw has chipped in 10.6 points and 5.6 boards in the series, while Manu Ginobili shuck off his poor play in Game Four and totaled 19 points, four rebounds and six assists including a 3-for-4 run beyond the arc in Game Five. Ginobili is now shooting better than 60 percent from three in the series.
Averaging 10 points, three rebounds and three assists, Jackson, who’s been battling an ankle injury, has stepped up for the Thunder bench, but they’ll need more from the likes of center Nick Collison and forward Caron Butler to send the series back to San Antonio. In 20 minutes per game this series, Butler is shooting 38.5 percent from the floor for 5.8 points and 3.2 rebounds. Collison had a larger role in the first two games before Serge Ibaka came back, but even with the extra time he’s only notched 1.8 points and 2 rebounds per game.
Start Time: Saturday, 8:30 p.m. EST
TV Channel: TNT
Live Online Stream Info: A live online stream is available at TNT Overtime here
Betting Odds: Oklahoma City -4
Over/Under: 207 points
Prediction: OKC over San Antonio 109-107