Blogtable: Taking Spurs Or Thunder?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


Week 23: Taking Spurs or Thunder? | Pacers or Knicks No. 2 in East? | Team ready to pull a playoff upset?


Who do you consider better at full strength, the Spurs or Thunder? Who will win the West?

Steve Aschburner: San Antonio is the better team at full strength, but that’s becoming elusive for the Spurs in spite of coach Gregg Popovich‘s, um, roster maintenance. Manu Ginobili is so helpful to them in multiple ways, particularly late in close games, which explains some of their recent W-L churning. Will they win the West? Yes, as far as regular season goes. Maybe, by the end of the West playoffs, if the Spurs’ Big 3 all can play at least five games of every series.

Fran Blinebury: At full strength, I’ll take the Spurs. They still have one of the top offenses in the league, but have improved significantly at the defensive end. I still have questions about how much OKC will miss James Harden as the Thunder get deep into the playoffs. However, the key phrase is “at full strength” and with the aging Spurs relying so heavily on Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili that will be the question that hovers. Can they hold up over two months to play in The Finals?

Jeff Caplan: I hope these teams meet again in the West finals so we can find out. I love the Spurs at full strength. They’re like watching one of those teaching fundamentals videos. Everyone knows exactly where they should be and what they should be doing. Their precision is remarkable. Offensively they do it all — penetrate, postup and knock down the 3-ball. Defensively, they’re improved over last season. As for OKC, the loss of Harden has put the ball in the hands of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook even more, and that’s not a bad thing. They have a solid supporting cast that knows their roles. I just wonder if they have enough scoring options if Durant or Westbrook have an off-night. Kevin Martin is the X-factor. Throughout the season, when he’s involved, hitting shots at a high percentage and scoring in double figures, OKC is almost impossible to beat. So who do I consider better at full strength? It’s so hard to bet against Pop and the Spurs, but KD and Westbrook are just too fast, too athletic and too explosive, and that’s why they’re better and will win the West again.

Scott Howard-Cooper: The Thunder. Their defense is a little better than San Antonio and their rebounding is better. Plus, that athleticism is a dimension few teams, if any, can match. The main concern about OKC is the turnover problem that has dragged into a second full season as title hopefuls with no solution.

John Schuhmann: The Spurs are my pick. Overall, they’ve been the slightly better defensive team, their starting lineup has been much better defensively than OKC’s starters, and they’ve defended the Thunder’s No. 2 offense well in two of the three meetings so far. Manu Ginobili’s health (and eventual effectiveness) is obviously a concern, but it’s been a concern all season, and they’ve managed to put together the West’s best record with him having a down year. The changes that the teams went through since last year’s conference finals — the Spurs improving defensively and the Thunder swapping James Harden for Kevin Martin — favor San Antonio. So I’m picking the Spurs … as long as Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard are healthy.

Sekou Smith: We’ve seen the Thunder at full strength or something close to it all season. And they are still a step behind the Spurs, who haven’t had a fully healthy cast all season long. The Spurs are obviously a bit longer in the tooth, but they have complementary players like Danny Green, Stephen Jackson and Kawhi Leonard who are superior to the Thunder’s complementary players. When your stars cancel each other out, the measurement undoubtedly comes down to whose supporting cast can carry the day. And the Spurs win in that regard. Toss in the fact that Gregg Popovich is calling the shots on that Spurs bench and he’s probably still smarting from that Western Conference finals exit at the hands of the Thunder last year, I’m going with the deeper and more complete team (aka San Antonio) to win the West this year.

42 Comments

  1. D-Reppin says:

    It’s interesting. OKC is undoubtedly my team, but this season has been very worrying. Last season, they had James Harden, 6th Man of the Year with amazing perimeter shooting skills that made their game play harder to predict. This year, we have no Harden and their entire offense runs through KD, a pure scorer who has only gotten better at what he does and has started to show the kind of dominating play-style that will define his career in the future, and Westbrook… a SG disguised as a PG, who is prone to turnovers and bad decision making. Last year we had Harden to clean up his mess, but whose gonna do it this year? K-Mart? Fisher? … I just don’t know if KD is enough to carry us all the way this year. We’ve been blessed with amazing health and fitness, and yet we’re behind the Spurs who is without Manu and Parker has been injured. We have Denver and Memphis in the background looking to give us a hard time, and there’s still Clippers. Honestly, I can only hope that Westbrook plays good basketball throughout the rest of the season and that K-Mart or Fisher step up big time. KD can carry the team, but I dread a Nuggets matchup and Spurs is still a problem as is Clippers. At this point, I can only hope.

  2. Russwest44 says:

    The spurs may not even come out the first round depending if they play the lakers. Tony Parker and my boy Manu are hurt and arent magically going to become healthy in a few weeks. I understand the lajers are not poster-boys of “perfect health”, but Kobe will always be Kode and if he continues to feed the big men and if jodie meeks continues this hot streak he’s on then the Lakers could be a tough out especially for a team limping into the playoffs.

  3. Lakerbaby says:

    Lakers will pull an upset to those 2 team thats for sure

  4. The Hammer says:

    I have one question for you OKC lovers, KD is my second favorite player in the whole NBA, when things get thick he is not going to play in every post season game 40 minutes and score 25+ points, Westbrook will continue to live in his own cocoon and find his own points, but who else is going to step in to score the rest of the 30-40 points to carry them to 90 to 100 points per game? Denver will destroy OKC in a shootout, San Antonio will stop them from scoring 100+ points and Memphis will grind OKC to the ground. There is no way they can make it this year as is.

    • UnleashJeremyLamb says:

      The 30-40 points you speak of have to come by commitee. We thought kevin martin would step into that role of 16 points off the bench but he’s been lacking of late. To say that these teams will destroy them especially because over the past few seasons OKC has defeat all of these teams. OKC still has health playing for them as well when both Denver and San Antonio are limping into the playyoffs without there best players. As for Memphis, they still need to find consistant scoring.

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  6. johnny dawson says:

    What? You mean nobody is picking the Lakers? Kobe isn’t going to perform a miracle? What silly doubters!

  7. ko0kiE says:

    the spurs are strong, but I would still pick OKC simply because they got Kevin Durant.. and it’s not like Westbrook didn’t get any better although he still has some off-nights here and there.. the spurs can only hope he has 2 or 3 of those in a potential series. I wouldn’t bet on it.

  8. Karlo Garcia says:

    The team better at full strength is Spurs because when all of the team is clicking r tough 2 beat. The Spurs r going 2 win the West.

  9. RocketsFan says:

    No, I think the Thunder and Denver can beat the Spurs in a series. Memphis, Clips, & Rockets have a chance too.

  10. NinjagoXII says:

    Thunder will beat the Spurs, it will be close but thunder are more explosive, young and if KD and Westbrook are at full strength they are pretty much unbeatable. Spurs have got the advantage on the defensive side of things but OKC aren’t bad either. Tough matchup but i think OKC will take it out. GO OKC!!!

  11. MJ says:

    then houston beat the spurs?

  12. JFKC says:

    The Spurs will win. The only way for the Thunder to beat the Spurs is if Westbrook gets injured. He is not a point guard like Tony Parker. Bad decisions, turnovers, questionable shot selection. That being said, Scott Brooks has to change his offense and revolve it solely on Durant because there is no way in hell that Westbrook should be taking the same amount or more shots than Durant, who is an excellent shooter and one who makes better decisions.

  13. KD35 says:

    Just look at the Western Confrence Finales last year, Kevin Durant beat them single handed

  14. MJfromOKC says:

    Tough call really. The Spurs are tight when they’re on and healthy, everyone knows that, as was the case before the Thunder franchise existed in OKC.

    Even with teams at full strength I think they are more even than the regular season matchups would let you know. Our offense is, for the most part, based around emotionally vulnerable, talent rich, young adults still trying to reach their prime. Theirs offense is, for the most part, dependent on their veteran champions to hold things together.

    OKC has an edge defensively with Ibaka in the paint blocking shots, Perkins big inside presence, Westbrook, Sefolosha, and KD on the perimeter.

    San Antonio has better perimeter shooting off the bench and they can usually keep the team going no problem.

    OKCs bench can sometimes fail to produce and when they do it results in a loss almost every time.

  15. Kimmy says:

    Watch Out for the Thunder!!!!!!!!!

  16. Jc9 says:

    Spurs will beat the thunder, mark my word 100% Remember the 2012 West finals, it was only harden’s clutch shot that beat the spurs in their home.

  17. TDgamewinneroverCLippers says:

    can’t wait for this and i hope they are both at full strength during the conference finals

  18. Javier says:

    denver is overrated big time.they are a good team ,but will go just to the second round .they have no star in that lineup and it will hurt in the playoffs.the game will slow down and you will need your superstar to step up and thats where denver will fall.they might win a game or two because they are a good team but they will not win a second round series.

  19. will says:

    The Thunder are the Western Conferecne Champions for a reason…and that reason is that they beat the Spurs..and they beat them playing great basketball, so I find it a little disrespecful to say they have no chance against the spurs..

    People seem to forget they beat them last year…yes they had Harden, but they still have Kevin Durant, and Westbrook, and Ibaka…and they all improved as a team and individually…

  20. NHbleedsGREEN says:

    With the loss of Harden and the lack of a low post game I gotta go with the Spurs. Martin is an ok scorer but he really never has played important games in the playoffs ever.

  21. Mike says:

    Does everyone remember last year when the Spurs strolled through to the Western finals with ease? And then fell over against OKC because their bench was outgunned? Well, this year they are a substantially improved team. They’re talent on the bench is miles beyond the Thunder. There have been very few, if any, mentions of Tiago Splitter on this page, but if the Spurs beat OKC it’ll be because of his improvement and maturation over the past season. Oh and just between us, Splitter is the key to beating Miami in a potential Finals matchup.

    • Marco29 says:

      Fully agree for Splitter. Compared to last year’s finals, you have on Spurs side; Splitter and Leonard as + but Big3 health as potential -. On OKC side, Harden is a big – and I see no real +. Yet, they got Fisher back who can still be a factor with his 3pt shooting as he has shown yesterday.

  22. Whose Team Is It says:

    Spurs BABY . . . The Spurs are the team to beat in the west. They just too fundamental. OKC is a good team, but has to be downgraded because of the Harden loss. So say it again – Spurs BABY

  23. chris says:

    San Antonio Spurs if healthy will hands down handle the Thunder if they meet. IMO Martin is a huge downgrade from Harden and cannot create his own shot. Kahwi Leonard and Danny Green have another year under their belt and can both knock down 3′s and create their own shots(especially Leonard now). But the biggest advantage that I feel San Antonio has is ……Russell Westbrook! He has proven to be a turnover machine that can catch fire, BUT is way to inconsistent and makes STUPID decisions at the end of games( again why they will direly miss Harden in this postseason). Another thing also, This is not going to be a sweepfest to the WEST finals for either team. Maybe the first rounds against UTAH, and HOU/GS will be OK for both but after that playing DEN, or LAC, or GRIZ………I honestly don’t see it being an obvious matchup as of right now…… But i do see it being a great playoffs…..at least in the West lol.

    • bollywoodlover says:

      What makes you think Utah is gonna hold on to that 8th spot? They have a tougher schedule then the Lakers and are a younger and less experienced team than the streaking veteran Lakers. I wouldn’t bet against Kobe Bryant, and I think the Lakers create some match up problems for San Antonio. I think it would be a great series. A core of Kobe, Dwight, Gasol, Nash, and a decent bench is better then a core of Jefferson, Millsap, Williams, Favors, and a decent bench.

      • Marco29 says:

        An what makes you think that Spurs will hold on the 1st spot? They have only 0.5 games advance, are tied on the loss column now and still need to travel to Denver, Golden State and play Atlanta and Lakers. West playoff picture is still unclear and will remain so almost until the last games of the regular season.

  24. Canadian fan says:

    It always surprise me how much the “experts’ know. Last year, all of the “stable of scribes” predicted that the Spurs would win the Western Finals -Sekou, check your post from last year and correct me if am wrong. Then, all of the scribes but one (Schumman, if I remember correctly, again, Sekou check and correct me if wrong) predicted that OKC would beat Miami.

    Actual results: Stable of scribes 1- Reality 11. Or, to put it in an statistical way, the “experts” were 91.5% WRONG and just 8.5% right. To put this into perspective, flipping a coin to predict a win-lose situation gives you 50% of chances to be right, or 6 times HIGHER than our experts did. It is not surprising that most of people have a short memory, otherwise this experts would have no job writing predictions!

    Not that I do not appreciate the expert’s work, and I will continue reading your posts, because I am true fan of basketball and I like to read what other write about the sport I love. But, please, be honest and recognize that your expertise level, if applied in other fields similarly, would likely get you fired for incompetence (except perhaps if you work in weather forecast).

    All the best from a die-hard OKC fan in Ottawa, Canada.

    • Marco29 says:

      Then as am OKC fan, you have nothing to worry about since 4 of 6 picked the Spurs….Your point is valid but it is the interesting thing with sports that nothing goes as on paper. You cannot predict injuries, whistle blows, late-game action, etc… Anyway the battle is tight and will be interesting to watch. But we should not forget Memhis, Denver or those 2 LA teams.

  25. Jay says:

    Thunder All The Way!!! KD and Westbrook are Explosives!!! Beat The SPURS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :))

  26. Franz says:

    Spurs are better depending on a few things:
    - Big 3 are healthy
    - Green, Leonard and Splitter step up and play to their potential
    - The rest of them make SOME SORT OF CONTRIBUTION! (looking at Neal, Bonner and Diaw)
    - Minimise turnovers and more effort on rebounding

    Every game this season, we’ve been missing one of the three and still managed to win games. How scary would the Spurs be if they are firing on all cylinders?

  27. kenny says:

    thunder will beat the spurs because there better and younger plus deapper

    • Nick says:

      yeah good points, way to use facts……I’ll probably agree once you learn how to spell, any way Spurs are way more gooder and bester coach-ted. Spurs will beat OKC and then will take Miami soon after.

  28. The Knowledgeable Enforcer says:

    I agree that these are in fact the two top teams of the western conference and I do expect to see them matched up in the West championship series. I also agree with the majority in saying that the Spurs are favorites in this match-up but a lot depends on health for the Spurs. If San Antonio is able to recover Manu by midway thru the second round of the playoffs, and everyone else stays in good health then they will stay favorites for good reason. Unfortunately for OKC, I still do not believe in Westbrook as a facilitator and I don’t think that KD can handle the Spurs this year like he and Harden did last year. Who knows though, either way I am excited for this match-up if it happens again this year.

  29. jake s says:

    Man, everyone chooses Spurs over Thunder. Even the writers that chose Thunder make it seem like a nearly impossible feat to beat San Antonio. I tell you what, If the Thunder end up defending their Western Conference Championship, then that is simply amazing. The loss of a great player always hurts a team. I normally agree with Sekou, but I don’t think the starters cancel each other out. That being said, age is a factor, It’s not an excuse. Subsequent injury from age is a team weakness, it’s not just an unfortunate situation. The Spurs will always be good as long as they have Pop calling the shots, however the Thunder are the future of the west. Spurs are moving past their prime, Thunder have only began to play.

    • Marco29 says:

      OKC may be the future, but they have not topped the Spurs yet. For the current year, Spurs might still have the edge if everybody is on board. OKC has to overcome the loss of Harden. Hope to see the rematch of last year’s west finals. Would be a must see.

  30. Mike Miller says:

    It’s gonna be between The Grizzlies and The Nuggets. This man does not know what’s up. The Grizzlies would’ve swept the Thunder if it wasn’t for them to have shortage of players on their second meeting. The only team that can stop the Grizzlies is the Nuggets. I mean, if the Spurs stayed healthy, maybe. MAYBE. Two years ago, we saw Z-bo go into a mode like no other. With Gay gone, he’s gonna get more oppurtunities, and he’s going to make the best of them come prime time to shine.

  31. Reggie Evans is an Alien! says:

    Mark my words, Kawhi Leonard will be the most important player if these two meet in the conference final.

  32. melquin says:

    spurs it should be,but spurs could no longer a big 3,because spurs is now danny green and khawi leonard team,just remove them and let us see the result,they bring enthusiastic to the team,its not parker or ginobili,it maybe td.

    • QQ says:

      Not a Tony Parker team? Really? What a load of rubbish.
      If Leonard can keep Durant at bay, Spurs should win against the OKC. I wouldn’t look that far tho. West is very competitive this year and Denver/Memphis can be a painful matchup for anyone.

    • timmy-d says:

      i would agree if you say danny and kawhi are keyplayers and without them it would be way tougher to be one of the best teams. but to say its not tony parkers team is nonsense. hes the main guy besides timmy. one thing that bothers me is the fact that okc 4 days rested while the spurs had back-to-back and is on the second game of another one. i kind of feel like dejavu. anyone remembers late november against miami? exactly the same scenario. maybe im paranoid but it sure looks like the nba wants the spurs to lose…

  33. Rocks says:

    I will be tempted to select the Spurs but the Thunders are just too explosive for them. And there is no way OKC can resort to a slow tempo game knowing how well the Spurs can set up their defense. I see both teams protecting their home courts very well until the last game of the series where the legs will carry OKC to victory. KD is not amongst the leading scorer for the past seasons by default. He is the best and purest clutch performer in the NBA. He will definitely carry OKC to the promise land – NBA Finals. On the other hand, Parker is going to be a thorn in their foot (not the supporting cast Leonard, Green or Jackson). Tony Parker! He’s toxic. One of the best leaders in the game.