This should be good — we’re going to get a pretty fair test between the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the West Thursday night.
The Spurs will start Tim Duncan and Tony Parker at Oklahoma City, coach Gregg Popovich told the media according to multiple reports. After the Spurs won their 19th game in a row Wednesday night there was speculation that a number of Spurs players could get rested for Thursday. Nope, he’s playing most of them.
The only star who will be sitting is Sixth Man of the Year candidate Manu Ginobili.
On the other side, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (he will sit out Friday due to OKC’s back-to-back policy with him). Reggie Jackson also will come off the bench and play for the Thunder, according to reports.
Kendrick Perkins will play but will be limited to five minutes each half, reports Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman.
The Thunder will still be without Thabo Sefalosha, which has impacted their athleticism on the defensive end.
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The Spurs have won 19 in a row and with a 3.5 game lead over the Thunder will almost certainly be the top seed in the West. However, dating back to the 2012 Western Conference Finals between these two the Spurs have struggled with the length and athleticism of the Thunder — OKC has won for straight and the last six at home, for example. The question is will that be the same in these playoffs, could it be a repeat where the Spurs roll into the conference finals only to find the Thunder (or maybe the Clippers) just overwhelm them.
That’s not likely on Thursday. Regular season games make poor indicators of postseason series, you can’t read too much into this game whatever happens.
But with both teams at full strength it should be fun.