Oklahoma City Thunder Stat Monkey Brief: Thunder/Spurs (12/17/12)
The Thunder and Spurs bring the two best records in the Western Conference to the floor in Oklahoma City tonight. San Antonio is nearing the end of a seven game stretch with five road games. Oklahoma City, meanwhile, has earned seven of its ten straight wins at home.
Will the turnovers ever stop?
One of the most surprising aspects of Oklahoma City's hot streak is that the team continues to pile up win after win without fixing its turnover problem. The Thunder have the best record of all 30 NBA teams and the worst turnover percentage, 15.2. They were particularly poor against the Kings on Friday, with a turnover percentage of 16.3. They got away with an error filled game against Sacramento, but they will have a tough times beating San Antonio with that sort of sloppy effort. In the Thunder's season opener, the Spurs forced a turnover percentage of 17.1 and won by two. With the NBA's fourth lowest shooting percentage allowed, San Antonio is poised to make scoring tougher for Oklahoma City (it did in the first matchup) and that is when turnovers can come back to haunt the Thunder.
Not as slow as you think
There is a perception that the Thunder are a young team that can run the Spurs ragged. From an athletic and age standpoint, this may be true. However, Oklahoma City has not really tried to push the tempo much this year, while San Antonio actually has. Pace factor is an estimate of the number of possessions per 48 minutes that a team has. The Thunder rank 15th with a pace factor of 91.9. The Spurs have a pace factor of 94.3, which is third fastest in the game. While the Thunder are undoubtedly phyiscally faster than the Spurs, that might not necessarily manifest itself with Oklahoma City trying to run the break every time down the floor.
This is a matchup between two experienced, talented teams that are frontrunners in the Western Conference, with a recent history in the playoffs to boot. December basketball does not get much better than that.