Oklahoma City Thunder (7-7) vs. Spurs (9-6)
When, where: 7 p.m., Friday, AT&T Center
Season series: First meeting
Last meeting: Spurs 100, Thunder 95, March 31, 2017, OKC
Thunder’s last game: Beat Bulls 92-79, Wednesday, OKC
Spurs’ last game: Lost to Timberwolves 98-86, Wednesday, Minneapolis
Thunder’s last 10 games: 5-5, won last three
Spurs’ last 10 games: 5-5, lost last game
Notable: Gregg Popovich is the third NBA coach in history with 500 road victories Don Nelson and Pat Riley are first and second.
A formidable team already with reigning MVP Russell Westbrook on their roster, the Oklahoma City Thunder added All-Stars Carmelo Anthony and Paul George in the offseason to bolster their chances of remaining competitive in the NBA’s Western Conference.
The Thunder are still a work in progress, as indicated by their 7-7 start, but it could be only a matter of time before the NBA’s next Big Three meshes and starts ripping off victories.
You won’t find any doubters in the Spurs’ camp.
“I expect them to be harder to guard, as if there weren’t already to guard before with Russ and the roster they had before,” guard Danny Green after Friday’s shootaround. “But now they have two other All-Star, multiple shooters, guys that can score, create their own shot. So, it’s a tougher matchup, harder to guard. It’s going to be a good challenge for us.”
OKC traded Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis to Indiana in July for George, a four-time All-Star guard and small forward.
The Thunder worked another trade in September, sending Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott to the New York Knicks for Anthony, a 12-time All-Star forward.
“I thought they acquired some good pieces each time,” Green said. “I thought they didn’t have to give up a lot to get those pieces. I thought they made some good moves. See how well it works out for them.
“Right now, we’re focusing on what we have to do while we get healthy, and that’s to continue to build, win games and get better. Go in the direction we need to be going, defensively, offensively, talking, communicating, progressing to get our young guys in gear while we get healthy.”
The Spurs (9-6) play their first game this season against the new-look Thunder at 7 p.m. Friday at the AT&T Center.
San Antonio had beaten Minnesota 12 consecutive times before they lost to the Timberwolves 98-86 on Wednesday night in Minneapolis. The game was the second of a road back-to-back for the Silver and Black, who beat Dallas 97-91 on Tuesday. The Spurs are 5-6 since starting the season 4-0.
OKC beat the Bulls 92-79 on Wednesday for its third consecutive victory, all at home. Westbrook, who averaged a triple-double last season, finished with 21 rebounds, five rebounds and seven assists. Anthony had 18 points and 11 rebounds.
The Thunder played their consecutive game without center Stevens Adams, who has been sidelined with a right-calf contusion. Adams will play against the Spurs.
Westbrook, who averaged a triple-double last season, is averaging 20.3 points, 8.1 rebounds and 9.6 assists. George (21.9 ppg) leads OKC in scoring and Anthony (20.1) is third.
“We know what kind of guys they have,” Spurs backup forward Rudy Gay said. “They’re a special group of guys. For us to compete against them, we have to think defense first, obviously, (and) move the ball around and continue to make them work.”
Kawhi Leonard (right quadriceps tendinopathy), Tony Parker (left quadriceps tendon surgery) and Derrick White (right wrist fracture) are out for Friday night’s game.
Up next after Friday night’s game: vs Atlanta, Monday, 7:30 p.m., AT&T Center