After a dominating start in this Western Conference Finals, the San Antonio Spurs fell back to earth as the Oklahoma City Thunder took Game 3, 106-97. San Antonio still has the 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series but the Thunder host the next game and can tie it up before the series shifts back to Texas.
Russell Westbrook top-scored with 26 points while Kevin Durant had 25 markers. What were the other key numbers in OKC’s convincing win on Sunday?
Points in the Paint – Spurs 46, Thunder 46
The Spurs and Thunder are actually tied for inside points in Game 3 but even the draw is a small victory for the latter as they got completely dismantled down low in the first two games. San Antonio had a 66-32 points in the paint advantage in Game 1 and then 54-42 in Game 2. Considering those were blowout losses the garbage points actually skewed the numbers to OKC.
They would learn in those debacles in Game 3—or simply that Serge Ibaka is indeed a big factor in this series. Ibaka shot 6-of-7 from the field but defensively was where he made his mark. The Spanish center had 4 blocked shots and was the defensive disruption OKC needed against the Spurs. As a team, the Thunder had 10 blocked shots while the Spurs had 2.
Thunder Defense – Limited Spurs to 39.6% FG Shooting
Again with Ibaka, Oklahoma City is a different animal defensively. The Spurs shot 57.5 per cent (50/87 FG) in Game 1 and then 50.0 per cent (41-82) in Game 2. In the third game, the Thunder forced the Spurs to miss 55-of-91 field goals for just 39.6 per cent shooting.
The Thunder worked on the passing lanes and closed out better on the shooters in this game. Tony Parker missed 9-of-13 shots (9 points), Kawhi Leonard missed 7-of-11 shots (10 points) and Danny Gree missed 9-of-12 shots (8 points). All three were key players in San Antonio’s first two wins.
Rebounding Edge – Thunder 52, Spurs 36
OKC needed more energy and hustle in this game to gain back their confidence. After a close 29-28 first quarter for the Spurs, the Thunder outscored San Antonio, 29-24 in the second quarter and 26-23 in the third quarter. It was all over by this point and they did it by being more active on the boards. They had a 52-36 advantage in rebounding and it gave OKC more chances at the basket. It was an even battle on the boards in Game 1 and S.A. dominated the glass in Game 2.
Game 4 is set on Tuesday (Wednesday Australia) still in Oklahoma City.