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.
After missing two entire seasons, all signs are pointing to 2014 No. 3 overall pick Joel Embiid finally taking the court this season. Last week, Sixers coach Brett Brown said that Embiid has looked great in his workouts and is on track to play in the preseason, and Embiid himself echoed that sentiment over the weekend. He told the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Marc Narducci that he feels “100 percent.”
There’s always a possibility and fear that Embiid’s recurring foot problems will come back, but for now, all indications are that he’s feeling good and will be able to contribute this season, which should make Sixers fans excited.
The release of NBA 2K17, the latest edition of the popular 2K video-game series, is less than a month away. Players are starting to get their likenesses in the game, as well as their player ratings, and tweet them out. Magic forward Evan Fournier wasn’t too happy with the way his came out.
Fournier’s countryman Rudy Gobert got in on the fun, too, changing his Twitter avatar to Fournier’s screenshot and encouraging others to do the same. He even created a hashtag for it.
At least they’re having fun with it.
On Friday, the Jazz traded German center Tibor Pleiss to the Sixers along with two second-round picks for Kendall Marshall. The big draw of the trade for Philly was the picks, and Pleiss is not expected to stay with the Sixers, according to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia’s Jessica Camerato.
Pleiss had a forgettable season with Utah, and the Sixers have a glut of bigs including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. It would have been virtually impossible for Pleiss to crack the rotation, and it’s unlikely another team picks up his contract, which has $3 million guaranteed this season.
As a Jordan Brand athlete, Russell Westbrook is under the same Nike umbrella as former teammate Kevin Durant. But his latest Jordan spot, released Friday, has a very pointed tagline: “Some run, some make runways.”
Given the circumstances, it’s hard to interpret that as anything other than a reference to Durant signing with the Warriors and Westbrook signing an extension with the Thunder.