When the dust settles after tonight’s duel between Western Conference top guns San Antonio and Oklahoma City, several significant streaks will either continue or get stopped cold.
Coach Popovich’s guys own the NBA’s best record at 59-16 and have won an incredible 19 contests in a row, including last night’s home dismantling of the Golden State Warriors, 111-90.
The 54-19 Thunder hold the league’s second best mark. Leading 2014 NBA MVP candidate Kevin Durant has scored at least 25 points in 38 consecutive games, second only to Michael Jordan’s 40-game streak way back in the ’86-’87 season.
Also on the line this evening are OKC’s four straight W’s over their Western Conference brethren, including all three meetings this season. In addition, the Spurs have lost six straight in Oklahoma City including the playoffs.
Not only do the Spurs have something to prove, but with about two weeks left in the regular season, a San Antonio victory tonight would give them a five-game cushion over the Thunder for the top slot in the West.
However, with tonight’s 48 being the back half of a back-to-back and SAS’s fifth game in seven nights, it will be interesting to see if the wizened Popovich decides to limit his stars’ minutes, bearing the big playoff picture in mind, or to put the pedal to the metal in what could possibly be a preview of this year’s Western Conference Finals.
The rested Thunder, winners of 6 of their last 7, last played on Sunday night against the Jazz. In their 116-96 home W over Utah, Coach Scott Brooks’ squad shot 55% from the field, 61% from 3 and 89% from the line. The always spectacular Durant had 31 points and 9 dimes in only 29 minutes of floor time.
These two sides last matched up on January 22nd in San Antonio. In the 111-105 Thunder win, KD went for 36 and, playing for the injured Russell Westbrook, 3rd-year PG Reggie Jackson put up 27 points, 8 dimes and 2 steals. It was more of an offensive than a defensive battle, with both teams shooting above 50% as well as lighting it up from the 3.
Tune in to TNT at 8PM ET to see if the team with both the best overall record as well as the best road record can finally take one from KD & Company.
The Brooklyn Nets and Oklahoma City Thunder have both played in 31 contests so far this season. Both sides recently lost one of their two best starters to injuries. And both squads lost to their opponents on Tuesday. However, their similarities end there.
Coach Scott Brooks’ guys lead the Western Conference at 25-6 and possess a home record of 14-2. Coach Jason Kidd’s team sits at 9-21, which is good for the second worst mark in the 30-team league.
Tonight the Nets will wrap up a 3-game road swing that has pitted them against the top 3 records in the NBA. On Saturday the Nets fell to Indiana 105-91 after trailing by just 2 at the half.
On Tuesday, they were manhandled 113-92 in San Antonio. Starting big man Kevin Garnett had 2 points and zero FGs. It was only the second time in KG’s 19-year career that he failed to score from the field.
Brooklyn’s lone win in their past seven games was at home against the sole team in the league looking up at them, the Milwaukee Bucks. In all the major team categories, the Nets rank in the 20’s. They must make a shift, whether it be mental, physical or via trade, to help get back on their predicted track and salvage this season.
A good start tonight would be pounding, hounding and surrounding the glass at both ends, as they rank 28th in team rebounding while the Thunder occupy the top spot in boarding.
In addition, with All-Everything PG Russell Westbrook on the shelf for a while, tonight would be a great time for PG Deron Williams and SG Joe Johnson to flash their multiple All-Star credentials and put the pressure on the Thunder’s depleted backcourt.
Are some of Brooklyn’s players past their primes? Yes. Is the Brook Lopez injury devastating to this season’s current outlook? Yes. Were the Nets touted as an Eastern Conference heavyweight too soon after forming their newest nucleus? Yes.
But with 49 regular season games remaining, Brooklyn still has time to flip their fortune and grab one of the weak East’s top 8 spots. A Brooklyn victory this evening would reignite their campaign and stand out as the best W of the season for the Nets.
Tune in to the YES Network at 8PM ET to see if the Nets can bounce back and stop the Durant-led Thunder storm.