VIDEO: Spurs-Thunder Game 6 preview
OKLAHOMA CITY — Going into Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, all coach Gregg Popovich wanted to see from his team was fire and aggressiveness.
Now with a chance to close out the Thunder on Saturday night (8:30 ET, TNT), what the Spurs probably need most is smarts.
“If we just want to play crazy and take quick shots, they’re going to beat us,” said Manu Ginobili. “They are more athletic, they are more talented. So we’ve really got to be sharp.”
There’s a good chance that Popovich will again open with Matt Bonner replacing Tiago Splitter in the starting lineup to spread the floor and open up space in the middle of the OKC defense with Serge Ibaka forced to chase on the perimeter.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks could make the next chess move by shifting defensive assignments, putting Ibaka on Tim Duncan to keep him closer to the basket. But that would also mean that Kevin Durant would have to take time guarding the sizable-but-quick Boris Diaw, who came off the bench to start the second half of Game 5 in place of Bonner.
Ginobili says Diaw has just the kind of veteran experience and wisdom that can make a difference.
“He’s smart, he knows how to pass, and he is a great combination of being a good shooter without shooting too much, and a driver, and can post up more as a player,” Ginobili said. “He’s very versatile, and you can change things up with him a lot, and looking at each other, we can make decisions on the fly.”