Westbrook: Ibaka won’t be fooled again

NBA.com | Hang Time Blog

By Jeff Caplan, NBA.com

[nba-video vid=channels/playoffs/2014/05/30/0041300316-sas-okc-gm6-lookahead.nba]
VIDEO:Spurs-Thunder Game 6 preview

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Spurs’ Game 5 strategy to use Matt Bonner and Boris Diaw as “stretch” power forwards to bait Thunder rim protector Serge Ibaka out of the paint worked just like Gregg Popovich drew it up.

Ibaka admitted the ploy threw him off, and he had his first dud since joining the Western Conference finals in Game 3. Yet any notion that the San Antonio’s two role players suddenly present an unsolvable riddle for the Thunder in Saturday’s do-or-die Game 6 (8:30 p.m. ET, TNT) literally made point guard Russell Westbrook shake his head.

“They’re not the first stretch-4s that we’ve played,” Westbrook following the team’s morning shootaround. “We played Dirk [Nowitzki], LaMarcus [Aldridge], Kevin Love, all these different bigs that can shoot the ball at a high percentage, so we know what to…

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Spurs need to follow smart path

NBA.com | Hang Time Blog

[nba-video vid=channels/playoffs/2014/05/30/0041300316-sas-okc-gm6-lookahead.nba]
VIDEO:Spurs-Thunder Game 6 preview

OKLAHOMA CITY — Going into Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, all coach Gregg Popovich wanted to see from his team was fire and aggressiveness.

Now with a chance to close out the Thunder on Saturday night (8:30 ET, TNT), what the Spurs probably need most is smarts.

“If we just want to play crazy and take quick shots, they’re going to beat us,” said Manu Ginobili. “They are more athletic, they are more talented. So we’ve really got to be sharp.”

There’s a good chance that Popovich will again open with Matt Bonner replacing Tiago Splitter in the starting lineup to spread the floor and open up space in the middle of the OKC defense with Serge Ibaka forced to chase on the perimeter.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks could make the next chess move by shifting defensive assignments…

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Mix Master With Kelly Wearstler

Mix Master With Kelly Wearstler

Time for K.D. to sink his teeth into Game 6

NBA.com | Hang Time Blog

By Jeff Caplan, NBA.com

[nba-video vid=channels/playoffs/2014/05/30/0041300316-sas-okc-gm6-lookahead.nba]
VIDEO:Spurs-Thunder Game 6 preview

OKLAHOMA CITY — The MVP was asked if he’s put his imprint on the Western Conference finals.

“You know, it [is] a different series compared to the first two, whereas you’ve got to beat this team with a group of guys,” Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant said. “Against the Clippers, me and Russell [Westbrook], we came out and scored 40 points a piece and [were] able to win, but this team makes you play with everybody. We knew that.

“You’ve got to do it on both ends of the floor. I feel like I put my imprint on the series. It may not be in the usual way that people expect me to go out and score 40 a game, but I think I put my imprint on the series.”

As Durant and the Thunder head…

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Emotions exposed in high-stakes series

NBA.com | Hang Time Blog

By Jeff Caplan, NBA.com

[nba-video vid=channels/nba_tv/2014/05/30/20140530-starters-thunder-spurs-gm5.nba/]
VIDEO: The Starters: Thunder-Spurs Game 5

OKLAHOMA CITY — As the points mount in sudden flurries and push the fervor of the home crowd to maddening levels for the teeth-gnashing visitors, scenes of frustration have grown tenser and more emotional as this high-stakes Western Conference finals charges along.

Both arenas, the AT&T Center in San Antonio and Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City — the locals dubbed it Loud City years ago — have each become caldrons of frayed nerves and blown tempers in one of the more peculiar series in recent memory in which the home team has won all five games in a rout.

“This is the craziest series I’ve ever been involved in,” said Spurs star Tim Duncan, a veteran of 16 postseasons.

The two teams, though, are thought of as emotional polar opposites: The button-down Spurs exuding poise…

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