HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — Neither the San Antonio Spurs nor the Oklahoma City Thunder had much trouble in the first round of the playoffs. They each made quick work of injury-depleted opponents, registering point differentials of 22.0 and 18.2 points per per game, respectively.
Things are going to get a lot more interesting in the conference semifinals, where the Spurs and Thunder will have their third meeting in the last five postseasons. The previous two meetings were in the conference finals, with the Thunder advancing in 2012 and the Spurs advancing in 2014.
This season, we’ve been anticipating a Warriors-Spurs matchup in the conference finals. And the Thunder may be a bigger obstacle than Stephen Curry‘s knee injury for that dream meeting of teams that won 73 and 67 games in the regular season.
The Spurs have home-court advantage and have won six of the last seven meetings in San Antonio. But the Thunder have won 11 of the last 13 in Oklahoma City and, going back to the 2012 conference finals, 14 of the last 21 games that Kevin Durant has played against the Spurs.
Of course, Kawhi Leonard was just a rookie in that 2012 series and has since evolved into the two-time Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year and the league’s best two-way player. His matchup with Durant will be the feature of this series, but there will be a lot more that will help determine the outcome.
Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for Spurs-Thunder, with links to let you dive in and explore more.
San Antonio Spurs (67-15)
First round: Beat Memphis in four games.
Pace: 91.4 (13)
OffRtg: 111.9 (3)
DefRtg: 89.3 (2)
NetRtg: +22.6 (1)
Spurs playoff notes:
- Shot 47.1 percent from 3-point range in the first round, a mark that leads the postseason.
- Best second half team in the playoffs. Outscored the Grizzlies by 32.6 points per 100 possessions after halftime.
- Have averaged 17.0 deflections per game, most in the playoffs.
- Have isolated on just 4.1 percent of their possessions, the lowest rate in the playoffs.
- Players off the bench had an aggregate on-court NetRtg of plus-25.2, the best mark in the playoffs.
- Leonard has an effective field goal percentage of 62.7 percent, best among players who have attempted at least 50 shots in the playoffs.
- The Grizzlies shot 30 percent at the rim when Leonard was there to defend it, the lowest mark against players who defended at least five shots at the rim per game.
- LaMarcus Aldridge is one of three players who has shot at least 50 percent on at least 20 mid-range shots.
- See Spurs-Grizzlies preview for regular season notes.
Oklahoma City Thunder (55-27)
First round: Beat Dallas in five games.
Pace: 94.8 (7)
OffRtg: 117.7 (1)
DefRtg: 99.3 (6)
NetRtg: +18.4 (3)
Thunder playoff notes:
- No. 1 rebounding team in the playoffs, having grabbed 57.4 percent of available boards against the Mavs.
- Have taken 34 percent of their shots from 3-point range, up from 27 percent in the regular season. That’s the biggest increase from the regular season to the first round.
- Starting lineup outscored the Mavs by 27.2 points per 100 possessions in 79 minutes, the best mark among lineups that have played at least 35 minutes in the playoffs.
- Durant has used 34.6 percent of Thunder possessions while he’s been on the floor, the highest usage rate of the playoffs.
- Russell Westbrook leads the postseason with 11.2 assists per game, five double-doubles, and a raw plus-minus of plus-101.
- Durant (1-for-6) and Westbrook (0-for-5) combined to shoot 1-for-11 in the clutch (game within five points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime).
- Serge Ibaka has played 162 minutes without a turnover.
- Ibaka has shot 62 percent (18-for-29) from outside the paint, the best mark among players with at least 25 attempts from the outside. Westbrook (11-for-16) and Ibaka (10-for-16) have combined to shoot 66 percent from mid-range.
- See Thunder-Mavs preview for regular season notes.
- The first meeting was the first game of the season, while the second was the second night of a back-to-back for Oklahoma City. The Spurs were without Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Leonard, Aldridge and Tim Duncan in the March 26 meeting, while the Thunder rested Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka in the April 12 meeting.
- The Thunder’s standard starting lineup was a plus-13 in 46 minutes against the Spurs and the Spurs’ standard starting lineup was a minus-2 in 41 minutes against the Thunder. But San Antonio outscored Oklahoma City, 49-41, in the 21 minutes that both lineups were on the floor together.
- Durant shot 15-for-38 (39 percent) against the Spurs with Leonard on the floor and 15-for-26 (58 percent) with Leonard off the floor. But the Thunder were a plus-3 in their 62 head-to-head minutes.
- The Thunder were a plus-41 in 106 minutes with Ibaka on the floor and a minus-28 in 91 minutes with him off the floor.
- Leonard’s average of 28.0 points per game was his highest against any opponent.
- Leonard and Danny Green combined to shoot 6-for-36 (17 percent) from 3-point range against the Thunder.
- Enes Kanter played more minutes (112) and grabbed more rebounds (59) against the Spurs than he did against any other opponent. The rebounds weren’t just a product of the minutes. His rebounding percentage (he grabbed 29.1 percent of available boards while he was on the floor) was also his highest mark against any opponent.
- Steven Adams and Kanter played only 127 minutes together all season, but 34 of those minutes were against the Spurs (in three different games).
- The Thunder’s effective field goal percentage of 48.1 percent was their lowest mark against any Western Conference opponent. Their turnover rate of 19.3 per 100 possessions was their highest mark against any Western Conference opponent and the highest any team had against the Spurs. OKC’s offensive rebounding percentage of 34.9 percent was also the highest any team had against the Spurs.