But the Thunder were no match for the Spurs in Game 1. The Spurs led by 43, their biggest lead ever in a playoff game in the Gregg Popovich era. They have won four straight home playoff games against the Thunder by an average of 24 points.
The Spurs are now 8-0 in Game 1s after a sweep in the previous series under Gregg Popovich. They have won 13 of their past 14 Game 1 romps.
Here are some of the best stats on the Spurs’ rout.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 38 points in 29 minutes, 32 seconds. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that is the most points scored by a player who played 30 or fewer minutes in a playoff game in the shot clock era (since 1954-55). The previous mark of 36 was set by Nick Van Exel in 2003.
Aldridge finished with 18 baskets, one field goal shy of the record for most by a Spurs player in a playoff game. The record of 19 was set by George Gervin in 1979 and matched in 1980.
Aldridge was a perfect 15-of-15 from the field when taking a shot off a pass from a teammate, including 6-of-6 on passes from Tony Parker. He was also 10-of-10 on shots that were catch-and-shoot.
All about ball movement
The contrast in styles between these teams can be summed up in this: In Game 1, the Spurs took nine shots off no passes and eight shots off five or more passes.
The Thunder took 20 shots without a pass and only one shot off five or more passes.
Westbrook and Durant stymied
Russell Westbrook was initially guarded by Kawhi Leonard on 84 percent of the Thunder’s half-court offense while both were on the court Saturday. Westbrook was 3-of-16 in half-court and was held to two points on 1-of-7 shooting and committed a turnover when Leonard was the primary defender.
Danny Green was Durant’s initial defender on 62 percent of the Thunder’s half-court possessions while Durant was on the court. When Green was the defender throughout the possession, the Thunder shot 11-of-30 (36.7 percent). Durant had nine points on 3-of-7 shooting.
Leonard started and finished on Durant on only three possessions. The Thunder were held to 0-of-3 shooting on those possessions, and Durant did not take a shot on them.
Three teams have come back to win a playoff series after losing Game 1 by 30 or more points. The most recent was the Lakers against the Celtics in the 1985 Finals.
The Spurs are 25-4 in best-of-seven series after winning Game 1 in the Gregg Popovich era.