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.
The Thunder will still be without Thabo Sefalosha, which has impacted their athleticism on the defensive end.
Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting its one-day $1.2 million Fantasy Basketball Championship on Friday night. The Championship has a $120,000 first place prize. You can buy in directly for $200. Starts at 7pm ET on Friday. Here’s the FanDuel link.
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.
Watch Jonathan Simmons’ chasedown block on Stephen Curry
While the Spurs were running the Warriors out of Oracle Arena — a 129-100 Spurs win — Simmons had a fantastic chasedown block on Stephen Curry. It was one of the plays of the game (most of the rest came from Kawhi Leonard).
Simmons had 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting off the bench for the Spurs in the win, which included a poster dunk on JaVale McGee late. Just to put some icing on the win.
Iman Shumpert in concussion protocol after collision with Porzingis
Late in the third quarter of Cleveland’s blowout opening night win over New York, the Cavalier’s Iman Shumpert lowered his head and tried to drive the lane, where he collided with Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis. It looked like Shumpert’s head hit Porzingis’ hip and elbow.
Shumpert instantly went to the ground, then needed help to come off the court. He was diagnosed with concussion-like symptoms, the team announced. Apparently, Porzingis is a rock.
A source questioned whether Shumpert would be available for either of the Cavs’ next two games, Friday in Toronto and Saturday against Orlando at The Q. To play, Shumpert would need to be symptom free, pass a series of tests, and show no symptoms after each test.
There is no set timeline with a concussion. In the short term, this will mean more DeAndre Liggins on the court until Shumpert returns.
The Cavs are already without rookie backup point guard Kay Felder, who suffered a concussion during practice last Friday when he ran into Chris Andersen.
What championship hangover? Cavaliers rout Knicks on ring night in Cleveland.
LeBron had a triple-double — 19 points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds — and led the Cavaliers to an easy win over the Knicks, 117-86. Kyrie Irving had 29 points — 19 in the third — and Kevin Love added 23 in the win.
But mostly it was the Cavaliers’ offense getting whatever shot it wanted and the Knicks watching dunks from up close.
Over the course of this season, these Knicks will evolve into something better than they showed opening night. No Derrick Rose (trial) and no Joakim Noah (injury) meant the Knicks starting five didn’t have a lot of cohesion and chemistry from the start.
After a sluggish first five minutes by both teams — they were a combined 6-of-22 shooting to open the game — the Cavaliers slowly started to create a little space behind 10 first quarter points from Love. That lead really started to grow as the Knicks bench came in and went 0-of-6 shooting to end the quarter, with Brandon Jennings making questionable decisions. Tack on seven Knick turnovers and the first and they were down 10 after 12 minutes.
The Cavs were in control through much of the second quarter until the Knicks went on a 10-0 run to make it a game again. It was Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony driving the team — they shot a combined 12-of-20 in the first half, the rest of the Knicks were 5-of-23. It was 48-45 Cavaliers at the break.
In the third quarter the Cavaliers starters cranked it up behind Kyrie Irving and tighter defense — the third quarter saw Kyrie Irving with 19 points and the entire Knicks team with 19. It was 82-64 Cavs after three and the celebration was on.
Kristaps Porzingis showed some moments but his 16 points came on 5-of-13 shooting. Anthony had 19 points on 18 shots. Rose had 17 points but four turnovers and one assist. Brandon Jennings came off the bench to shoot 1-of-7. It was not their best night.
For the Cavs, it was one to remember — the first banner in 52 years went up.
Did we mention LeBron James was dunking all over Knicks? Watch for yourself.