Will the real Thunder and Hawks please stand up?
The Oklahoma City Thunder responded to their Game 1 thumping. The Atlanta Hawks? Not so much.
How each team shows up for Game 3 of their respective series on Friday night will likely go a long way toward defining just how long these matchups will last. The Thunder host the San Antonio Spurs four days after they evened the series with a tense 98-97 win in San Antonio in Game 2.
The Hawks head home looking to find themselves after back-to-back losses in Cleveland to the Cavaliers.
The Thunder lost Game 1 by 32 points and were thoroughly embarrassed. But Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant got things going for Game 2 and head home looking to mimic that effort.
The Thunder's 32 wins at home in the regular season were tied for fourth-most in the NBA.
"They played great," Spurs point guard Tony Parker said. "It's a great win for them and now it's our job to react. Everybody understands to win a championship you have to win on the road. That's our job now."
The Hawks were buried by a record-setting shooting performance from the Cavaliers in Game 2. Cleveland hit 25 3-pointers in the game, led by 36 at halftime and breezed to the win. They were 27-14 at home in the regular season, and need to find some serious magic to make this a series.
"If they shoot the ball like that, I don't know if anyone can beat them, to be honest," Hawks shooter Kyle Korver said.
A look at the two games on the schedule for Friday night:
Cavaliers at Hawks, Cleveland leads 2-0, 7 p.m., ESPN
There was some grumbling from Hawks players after Game 2 about Cleveland continuing to shoot 3-pointers in the fourth quarter when the outcome was no longer in doubt.
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue didn't fault his players for taking a shot at history, especially when the Golden State Warriors set the postseason mark with 21 3s made earlier in these playoffs.
"That's something that the players felt like it was within their grasp, they wanted to go for it," Lue said on Thursday. "I mean, records are made to be broken, I don't see anything wrong with it. We didn't do anything malicious."
There may come a time for the Cavaliers when the 3s just aren't falling with the accuracy that they have in the first two games of this series, and Lue is bracing for that.
"Some nights you might not have it," he said. "We're playing great basketball and there will be some nights where we don't play as well and hopefully we can still have game where we'll be fine."
Spurs at Thunder, Tied 1-1. 9:30 p.m., ESPN
Oklahoma City might be in trouble going forward if it doesn't figure out how to deal with LaMarcus Aldridge. The 6-foot-11 post player exploded for 38 points on 18-for-23 shooting in San Antonio's 124-92 win in Game 1. He followed it up with 41 points on 15 for 21 shooting in OKC's win in Game 2.
The Thunder do not plan to make big changes to their defensive game plan for Game 3.
"The biggest thing is we've got to make it as hard as we can," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. "Double-team in the right situations, and maybe try and keep him off balance a little bit."
Aldridge's efficiency so far has not surprised Thunder forward Kevin Durant.
"He's an All-Star player," Durant said. "He's one of the best players in the league. There's a few times where we could have stopped him from scoring and a few times where you've just got to tell him, 'Hey, that's a good shot, that's a tough shot."'
In Game 1, Aldridge's teammates made 33 of 61 shots (.541). In Game 2, the rest of the Spurs made just 25 of 73 shots (.342). The Thunder don't want to overcommit to Aldridge and let the other guys get going.
"You can run down there and start taking them away, and all of a sudden, it's opened up 3s, drives and a lot of other things," Donovan said. "So you've really got to make good decisions of where your help's coming from and when it's coming."
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