At 6:30 pm CT the Oklahoma City Thunder will tip off against the San Antonio Spurs at Paycom Center for the first time in the regular season. This will be the first of four matchups this season between these two teams. But we did see them play each other in the preseason a little over a month ago. OKC is coming off of a victory against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday, in which they won 111-99. Without Devin Booker the Thunder just needed to keep Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal from putting up big numbers in the points column. Kevin Durant was held to 28 points (anything under 30 is worth being thankful for) while Drew Eubanks and Bradley Beal tied for the second most points on the team with 15 a piece.
Thunder v Spurs – State of the Thunder
The Thunder were simply able to outscore the undermanned Suns in large part thanks to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jalen Williams. SGA (35 points) and J-Dub (31 points) did most of the scoring for the Thunder, as only two other players managed to crack double digit points. That is not to say that the supporting cast for the Thunder played poorly. Josh Giddey still managed to get himself a double double with points and assists. The Thunder seem to be establishing their formula for winning. This hinges on SGA getting 30 points efficiently and one of the other core players stepping up their game on offense. Whether it be J-Dub, Josh Giddey, Chet Holmgren, or Lu Dort.
Thunder v Spurs – State of the Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs, also known as WembAntonio (that one could use some work), have had an entertaining start to the season. They let one slip to The Heat in their most recent game, losing narrowly 118-113. Their main storyline has obviously been the play of Victor Wembanyama. The Spurs took Wemby with the #1 overall pick in the most recent draft. Though the Spurs have had a rough start to the season record wise (3-7), the development of Wembanyama holds much more importance to the organization at this moment than wins. The team obviously invisions Wembanyama winning rings down the road. But I doubt there are many SA fans out there who think the big guy can take them all the way in his first season.
What fans and members of the organization hope to see from Vic is growth. Which there is still a lot of room for despite already being nearly 7 ft. 5 in. This San Antonio team may not hit the mark of 35 wins this year. But Wembanyama is reason enough to make fans want to tune in for every game. I know I still haven’t forgotten Wemanyama’s late game duel with Kevin Durant and the Suns. Fans are eager to get another glimpse of Vic playing must-watch basketball.
Thunder v Spurs – Keys to the Game
There are a few aspects to keep in mind for this game between the Thunder and Spurs. The big one is going to be the battle between the two Rookie of the Year Award candidates in Chet Holmgren and Victor Wembanyama. Watching these two big men with unique frames and skill sets will be a sight to see. Though the two have faced off a couple of times in the past. As mentioned before, Holmgren met Wembanyama earlier in the preseason. But they have also played each other in the FIBA U19 World Cup back in 2021.
So it is safe to say that the two have some history. One can only imagine the rivalry that will be developed as they continue to meet throughout their NBA careers. The other big aspect of this matchup is that it happens to be an In-Season Tournament game. This being the first year of its implementation, it is hard to tell from a fan’s perspective if these games mean any more to the players than a typical regular season game. Neither team has won an In-Season Tournament game yet. The Thunder have dropped two while the Spurs have lost one.
The Thunder and Spurs are two of the youngest teams in the NBA right now. They both kicked off their rebuilds a few years ago and have drafted plenty of young talent since. One thing that many young players have struggled with over the years is finding consistency in their game. As a rookie might look like a perennial all-star one night and then a G-League rotation player the next. Both of these teams have inconsistent players, but they also have some consistent ballers.
For the Spurs, I will specifically be watching Devin Vassell and Wemby on the offensive end. Though both players are relatively young, they have shown that they can be relied upon night after night. On the other hand, The Thunder can go into every game and practically count on SGA to score 30 points. If any of these players have an off night, their respective teams will have to rely even more on inconsistent players. The Spurs would appreciate a big game from guys like Jeremy Sochan or Zach Collins. While the Thunder have numerous players who could get hot and go for 20 points on any given night.
Thunder v Spurs – Prediction
With all that being said, I think the Thunder need less things to go their way if they are to win. The Spurs not having Keldon Johnson, Tre Jones, and possibly Jeremy Sochan hurts them big. They will need someone to step up off the bench to fill the starting point guard role.
The Thunder have no players with an injury designation. If you couple that with a home court advantage it makes sense why they are favored by more than 10 points. I predict the Thunder to come out on top tonight with a 110-102 victory over the Spurs. Then again, all it takes is a little game-breaking play from Victor Wembanyama to upset the odds. Even though I will be rooting for the Thunder there is still a part of me that would not be mad if Wemby balls out and the Spurs end up winning. Who will get their first In-Season Tournament win? Which rookie center will steal the show? When will my eyes adjust to the new courts? We’re all going to find out tonight!