Scouting Report: Spurs-Thunder 

May, 26, 2012
By Anthony Macri

The San Antonio Spurs are, in a word, rolling. Winners of 29 of their last 31 games (and 18 in a row), including playoffs, the Spurs look as dominant as any team in the past decade. After dispatching the Utah Jazz in four games, they took out the Los Angeles Clippers in convincing fashion, defeating their two playoff opponents by an average of 13.8 points per game. Second in the league during the regular season in points scored, their offense was the most efficient, while their defensive efficiency was in the top third of the league. The three-headed monster of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are the core of the team, but the real story is in their reserves, where the Spurs are a legitimate 12 deep, with seven of their top 10 achieving a PER over the league average during the playoffs.

Last year, the Oklahoma City Thunder entered the playoffs as the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference, and proved they were on the way to success by making the conference finals before bowing out to the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks. With only one postseason loss this year, OKC looks every bit like the team poised to actualize the potential shown last season. The second most efficient team on the offensive end (to San Antonio), the Thunder are also just behind the Spurs in defensive rating as well. Oklahoma City plays its top eight players a lion’s share of the minutes available, and of those eight, only four are over the league average in PER during the playoffs. Those four, however, are pretty good: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka.