NBA Playoffs 2016: Oklahoma City Thunder - San Antonio Spurs game 1 preview
The two franchises last met on April 12th, with the Spurs winning 102-98 after overtime. Credit: Kin Man Hui/ San Antonio Express

NBA Playoffs 2016: Oklahoma City Thunder - San Antonio Spurs game 1 preview

On Saturday the AT&T Center will play host to two of the Western Conferences biggest teams, as the San Antonio Spurs host the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first of a seven game series. Tip-off is 7:30 PM C.T on the 30th April.

chris-hughes
Chris Hughes

The Oklahoma City Thunder may of coasted through the first round of the 2016 NBA play-offs, but they face no tougher task than the San Antonio Spurs this round. Kevin Durant and gang will need to be on top form if the Thunder are to come out on top, with the Spurs having lost just one of their 42 home games across the regular and post season. 

The hosts will hope to give franchise legend Tim Duncan a belated birthday present, with the power forward having turned 40 earlier this week. 

Both sides enjoy easy first rounds

Despite playing in arguably the harder conference, both the Spurs and the Thunder enjoyed comfortable series success in their respective first rounds.

Despite losing game 2 to a Wesley Matthews layup, OKC were generally dominant against the Dallas Mavericks, winning three games on the bounce to take the series 4-1. Across those three matchups, the Thunder scored an average 122 points, including a huge 131 in their bounce-back game 3 win.

The Spurs meanwhile were one of only two teams in the league to sweep their series 4-0, with the other being the Cleveland Cavaliers of the Eastern Conference. San Antonio displayed some typically stellar defensive play against the Memphis Grizzlies, conceding no less than 95 points in a game. Across the four games, Gregg Popovich's side outscored their opponents by an average of 21 points per game.

Key players

Kawhi Leonard won his second Defensive Player of the Year award earlier this month. He will arguably be the key to any potential Spurs success against Oklahoma City. Credit: Bob Owen/San Antonio Express

It will be a battle of a dynamic offense versus an air-tight defense on Saturday, promising a close affair. Durant will take to the court alongside Russell Westbrook as one of the NBA's hottest duos, with both having averaged more than 20 points a game during the regular season. Durant, 28, was OKC's highest scorer in game 1 and 2 of their first round series, with returns of 21 and 34 respectively. Westbrook put up 36 in game 5, whilst being the side's best in terms of assists across all five games. Enes Kanter once again proved to be the wildcard, having scored a team-high 28 in the 119-108 win on April 23rd.

Trying to stop the partners-in-crime will be recently crowned 2016 Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard. The 24-year old has won the award in back-to-back years, and has been the key to the Spurs' success this year. The small forward has been San Antonio's highest scorer in three of their four play-off games, averaging around 21 points in the process, and grabbing a return of 32 in game 3 on April 19th. LaMarcus Aldridge and Tim Duncan have shared the spoils in terms of rebounds, being their side's highest rebounder on two occasions a piece.

Both side's boast a clean bill of health, making them the only two teams injury-free out of the five currently confirmed for the second round. Tip-off is Saturday 30th April, 7:30 PM C.T.

VAVEL Logo