By Michael Kinney
OKLAHOMA CITY —When facing the San Antonio Spurs, you never know what you may get. Despite having the second best record in the NBA, they have a coach in Gregg Popovich doesn’t always follow conventional wisdom when it comes to his team.
Popovich is known to sit one or two of his elder statesmen seemingly to get them rest during the regular season. It doesn’t matter if the game is nationally televised or against a top tier opponent, the Spurs do things their own way.
So when Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant was first told at shoot-around Saturday morning that the Spurs would be without five key players for their matchup tonight, he didn’t bat an eye.
“That’s a classic Pop move,” Durant said.
According to multiple reports, the Spurs will be without Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Manu Ginobli when the Spurs and Thunder tip-off at 7 p.m. at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
San Antonio (61-24) is coming off an 110-104 win over the Memphis Grizzlies Friday night. Parker (33 minutes), Duncan (31), Ginobli (24) and Aldridge (33) all played. Leonard (right quad contusion) sat out.
With only 10 games left in the regular season, a move like this was not unexpected.
However, the Thunder (50-22) are at a point where they can’t worry about what other teams are doing. Riding a six game winning streak, they may finally be finding their own comfort zone as the postseason approaches.
“We still have to get better,” Durant said. “It’s an opportunity for us to get better on the court. This team (Spurs) is still the same team. I know they’re missing all their best players, but they still run the same stuff and they still run their stuff with pace and still have shooters out there. They are a deep team so we have to be prepared.”
Even without their big 5, the Spurs have proven they can still beat many teams. The reserves on their bench would have made a formidable starting lineup five years ago. But now, they have the capability to beat Oklahoma City if the Thunder overlook them.
“They have a deep team,” Durant said of Spurs. “All those guys can start. Kevin Martin and David West. Jonathan Simmons is playing well this year.”
Durant said don’t expect to see him taking any games off to rest during the last nine games of the regular season. He said he had enough rest last year and at the start of this season.”
Different dunking styles
Durant was asked to describe the difference in the way he dunks compared to teammate Russell Westbrook.
“He is a little loud with is and I like to keep it quiet I guess,” Durant said. “I compared it to a home invasion and Russ is like a home invasion. Russ is turning on all the lights on and let you know he took your stuff. And I just take it while you sleep and leave.”