The San Antonio Spurs only needed three quarters to beat Oklahoma City Wednesday night.
If the Spurs had simply stopped playing, the final score would still have shown a 91-77 Spurs win.
For the Thunder, it wasn’t supposed to be like this. With their cornerstone players all healthy and entering their peak performance years, they were cruelly robbed of Serge Ibaka for the rest of the season.
That loss has proven terminal. Without the rim protection offered by Ibaka, San Antonio can punch the ball into the paint with impunity. The Spurs have scored 120 points in the paint in the first two games of this series.
There are other factors at play too. With the Thunder trailing so much, they have failed to keep attacking the rim, instead settling for jump shots.
The free-throw numbers from both teams show as much, with Oklahoma City shooting just 10 times – and making a paltry five – from the foul line, compared to the Spurs’ 21-23 clip.
In comparison, Danny Green hit seven of his 10 attempts from behind the three-point line. Not content to let free-throws be their sole downfall, OKC connected on two of their 20 shots from deep.
This shouldn’t sound too much like an assassination on this Thunder team who, after all, should have given the Spurs an incredibly tight series if both teams were fully healthy.
Instead, not only are they shorn of their premier defender, they walked into San Antonio to meet a buzz-saw.
The Spurs are running at their absolute zenith at present, especially on the offensive end. Of the 41 field goals made by San Antonio, 27 were assisted.
Tony Parker once again led the way in that category with five, though this was an all-round effort. Three other Spurs had four dimes as ten different Spurs registered at least one assist.
Parker added 22 points to lead his team while Tim Duncan enjoyed unopposed control of the paint to pour in 21 on a variety of looks.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook could only score 15 points each, obviously not enough if they hope to overcome the machine-like Spurs.
Their lack of output again needs to be put into context, as they are being asked to carry out what is looking like an increasingly impossible task.
San Antonio Spurs:
Tony Parker: 22 points, 10-17 FGS, 2-2 FTS
Tim Duncan: 21 points, 5-12 FGS, 12 rebounds
Danny Green: 21 points, 7-11 FGS, 7-10 3pt FGS
Oklahoma City Thunder:
Kevin Durant: 15 points, 6-16 FGS
Russell Westbrook: 15 points, 7-24 FGS, 6 assists
Jeremy Lamb: 13 points, 6-8 FGS
Game 3 @OKC: Sunday, May 25h. Tip: 8:30pm ET